Rudolph “Rudy” Guerra wrapped his business career around a passion for families and education.
He wanted to be a printer before he discovered joy in building Rudy’s Tortilla Factory from a business his father founded in 1945.
Guerra, 82, died last Wednesday at Medical City Dallas Hospital of complications of a stroke he had three days earlier while watching his beloved Dallas Cowboys on television.
Mass was celebrated for Guerra on Tuesday at St. Monica Catholic Church in Dallas, where he was a member.
“My dad was a happy man. He was very pragmatic,” said his son, Louis Guerra of Lewisville. “He knew we were only here for a short time. So he enjoyed himself.”
Guerra was born in Dallas, where his father, José Guerra, founded Texas Tortillas Bakery in 1945.
Rudy Guerra graduated from Crozier Tech High School in 1952. He served four years in the Air Force and entered the printing business.
In 1964, Guerra and his wife, Carmen, purchased the family business. He had discovered his passion.
“I bought my dad out with the intention of building it up, selling it and buying a print shop,” Guerra said in 1995. “But after things got real good, I kind of forgot about the printing.”
Guerra renamed the business Rudy’s Tortillas. He wanted to provide for his family and secure higher education for his children. All six of Guerra’s children were able to earn bachelor’s degrees; two have master’s.
In 1989, Guerra and his wife started Rudy’s Tortillas Foundation to provide college scholarships for Hispanics.
He also wanted his employees to earn a living wage in a safe, clean environment.
“He enjoyed seeing people have an opportunity to do better,” his son said.
The business was originally near the present site of the Crescent Hotel. It is now based in a 205,000-square-foot facility in Carrollton.
The business is still owned and operated by his children. Guerra maintained an office and a leadership position.
“He was always part of the company,” his son said. “He wasn’t in an active role, he was more like the chairman of the board, an advisory role.”
In addition to his wife and son, Guerra is survived by two other sons, Rudy Guerra Jr. and Joe Guerra, both of Dallas; three daughters, Kathy Purser of Grapevine, Monica Masters of Dallas and Linda Dyer of McKinney; two sisters, Beatrice Vera and Elvira Serna, both of Dallas; two brothers, Joe Guerra and Richard Guerra, both of Dallas; and 16 grandchildren.
Memorials may be made to Rudy’s Tortillas Foundation, 2115 E. Belt Line Road, Carrollton, Texas 75006.