La Feria News

Remembering Dr. Juan D. Villarreal

Dr. Juan D. Villarreal, right, and retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez during April 2019 scholarship presentation. Photo: Tony Vindell/LFN

by Tony Vindell/LFN

Dr. Juan D. Villarreal, a Harlingen dentist, philanthropist and community leader, passed away on December 29, 2019, at age 66.

Dr. Villarreal founded Harlingen Family Dentistry in 1983, a practice he started off with two employees, adding six satellite clinics, five throughout the Rio Grande Valley and one in northwest Austin.

Dr. Villarreal was a philanthropist who helped economically-disadvantaged children receive proper dental care with the Dentists Who Care program. He also set up a scholarship program to help high school students who are seeking college educations.

He was instrumental in assisting Texas State Technical College in setting up its dental hygienist program. An active member of the community, he also served as president of the Harlingen Economic Development board of directors. He was also a supporter of the drug rehabilitation center Narcanon South Texas.

The scholarship program, set up 12 years ago, has awarded around $6,000 to high school students enrolled in JROTC. Each student submits a project under the guidance of an instructor, adhering to the core values of a military-style regime.

In spite of his success as a dentist, Villarreal never forgot his humble roots. He came from a large family and was always determined to come back to Harlingen and do something for the local community.

He said he was attracted to the dental industry after he had a toothache when he was 14 years old. It took him three days to find a dentist.

At the time he remembers being told he couldn’t make it into that health profession because he was Hispanic. Through a rich and storied career, he proved them wrong.

Villarreal was an avid hunter and fisherman as well.

Dr. Villarreal’s funeral service was held at Camp Perry, northeast of Harlingen.

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