Cover photo for Dr. Deborah "Debbie" Kay Villalon's Obituary
Dr. Deborah "Debbie" Kay Villalon Profile Photo
1964 Deborah 2024

Dr. Deborah "Debbie" Kay Villalon

November 29, 1964 — January 21, 2024


Dr. Deborah "Debbie" Kay Villalon, a brilliant and fiercely independent individual passionate about Science, nature, and community, passed away peacefully on January 21, 2024, at her home in Weslaco. Debbie, the middle child to Benigno "Ben" and Rosa "Emma" Villalon, was born on November 29, 1964, in Bryan, Texas. 

When Debbie was a child, the Villalon family moved to Weslaco, where she and her siblings grew up. During high school, Debbie was an active member of the Weslaco Panther Band. She played the flute. Debbie, always thirsty for knowledge, continued her education after graduating from Weslaco High. She earned a Bachelor's in Biology from Princeton University in 1987. Then, a short time later, she earned a Ph.D. in Plant Physiology and Biotechnology from Texas A&M University. Debbie's passion for learning was lifelong. She continued to educate herself about various subjects, especially Science. 

Throughout her career, Debbie made significant contributions to various scientific fields. From 1996 to 1999, she was a Project Leader for the Genetic Engineering Team at International Paper Company. Subsequently, she was Director of the DNA Sequencing Team at Baylor College of Medicine from 2000 to 2001. 

She had a natural green thumb that was inherited from Grandma Petra Reyna. They both possessed an innate ability to make plants thrive under their care. Debbie's green thumb was known throughout the community as she transformed gardens into breathtaking oases of color and life.

 Debbie found her true calling as a Biology teacher. She started her career at Weslaco High School. In 2002, she joined South Texas College as a biology professor. She passionately shared her knowledge for almost two decades until 2020 and inspired countless students with her innovative teaching methods. During her tenure, Debbie inspired her students to make the community a better place. She taught them how to grow a garden and landscape (mainly native) and about the local ecosystems. Debbie's students tended gardens at South Texas College and around the community. They also adopted sections of the park to maintain. Debbie earned numerous awards at STC, most notably, The Community Service Award and Faculty of the Year. Her dedication to education left an indelible mark on the lives of those she taught. 

After leaving STC, Debbie continued educating South Texas ISD High School students until December 2023. 

Deborah's impact reached far beyond academia; she was deeply involved in her community. Recognized as an extraordinary leader, Debbie devoted her time and skills as a volunteer with countless organizations promoting environmental conservation and education. She graduated from Leadership Mid Valley, a Chamber of Commerce program that deeply studies our community's complexities, in 2008. 

Deborah was known to be a nature advocate, and although she volunteered for numerous organizations, The Valley Nature Center and The Frontera Audubon were close to her heart. Her passion for preserving the environment inspired her nephew, Blayne, who built a birding deck at the Frontera Audubon in her honor.

Debbie also participated in the American Cancer Society and their annual Relay for Life. She earned a Leadership Award from the American Cancer Society for her commitment to fighting cancer. 

Debbie earned numerous community awards. She earned Weslaco's Volunteer of the Year in 2008 and Citizen of the Year in 2012. Debbie also received the very prestigious Melvin Jones Fellow Award in 2009, to name a few. 

Debbie had plenty of hobbies. Artistic expression held an essential place in Deborah's life. She found solace and inspiration through painting and ceramics – mediums that allowed her creative spirit to flourish. She had a remarkable talent for capturing the beauty of the natural world in her artwork. Deborah also expressed her art with her style of clothing. Her wardrobe glittered with "bling" from top to bottom, including accessories.

In addition to her scientific pursuits and artistic endeavors, Deborah enjoyed spending time with her loved ones. She reveled in baking alongside her nieces and nephews, creating lasting memories filled with laughter and delicious treats. Her generous spirit brought warmth and love into every aspect of her life. Debbie was also a practical joker, so a surprise sometimes made the events more fun.

Deborah Villalon's contributions to both Science and her community were extraordinary. Her groundbreaking research and selfless and unwavering commitment to causes dear to her heart earned her countless accolades throughout her lifetime.

Most importantly, Debbie was a devout Catholic and had unwavering faith. Her interest in the Bible began when she and Belda would read and interpret passages together as children. Debbie continued to turn to scripture as a source of comfort and guidance all her life. She even left a scripture for her family as a reminder. 

Psalm 121: I lift up my eyes to the mountains—

    where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord,

    the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip—

    he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel

    will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you—

    the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day,

    nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm—

    he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going

    both now and forevermore.

Debbie is survived by her parents, Dr. Ben and Emma Villalon of Weslaco; her sisters, Belda Villalon of Weslaco and Suzanne Villalon-Hinojosa (Ernesto) of Schertz, brothers, Ben Villalon DDS (Yvette) of Sugarland and Denny Kurtis Villalon of San Antonio, sister in law, Jessica Villalon, nephews and nieces, Blayne and Mia Villalon Hill, Benjamin Villalon (Claudia), Nicholas Villalon, Dr. Glen Erich Francisco, Dylan, and Emma Villalon. 

Public Visitation will be on Sunday, January 28, 2024, from 1 pm to 9 pm, with a Holy Rosary at 6 pm and a Celebration of Life at 7 pm at McCaleb Funeral Home in Weslaco. Mass will be celebrated on Monday, January 29, 2024, at 10 am at St. Pius X Catholic Church in Weslaco, followed by burial at Highland Memorial Park. 

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Dr. Deborah "Debbie" Kay Villalon, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Sunday, January 28, 2024

1:00 - 9:00 pm (Central time)

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Sunday, January 28, 2024

6:00 - 7:00 pm (Central time)

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Celebration of Life

Sunday, January 28, 2024

7:00 - 7:00 pm (Central time)

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Funeral Service

Monday, January 29, 2024

10:00 - 11:00 am (Central time)

St. Pius X Catholic Church

600 South Oklahoma, WESLACO, TX 78596

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Monday, January 29, 2024

11:00am - 12:00 pm (Central time)

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