Sept. 22, 1925 – Aug. 17, 2019
Roberto “Rocco” Viera, who died on Aug. 17, 2019, at the age of 89, was an exemplary husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather.
Rocco, a typical product of El Paso’s Segundo Barrio, came from humble beginnings. He was all-American, but he was very proud of his heritage.
A graduate of Bowie High School, he served in the U.S. Air Force. It was during his military service that a fellow airman remarked to him that he had a rough look about him and nicknamed him Rocco.
In 1969, while working as an illustrator at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, Rocco joined the El Paso Del Norte Lions Club and became Lion Rocco.
While at White Sands, where he worked for more than 30 years, there was a deliberate effort by the federal government to “hire the handicapped.” Rocco took that to heart and acquired the services of a deaf person as his assistant and learned a substantial amount of sign language.
Rocco was influential in the creation of a Center for the Deaf in El Paso and the creation of a Miss Deaf El Paso Beauty Pageant. He also helped form a partnership between the West Texas Lions and local nonprofit Centro De Salud Familiar La Fe to establish a hearing aid bank under La Fe’s Hearing Intervention Program. With assistance from Lion volunteers, Rocco provided hearing screening, counseling and referral services at many of the city’s health fairs.
Through the Lion’s Club, Rocco sponsored and participated in special programs for deaf and hard of hearing school-aged children, nurses, teachers and administrators in public, private and parochial schools across El Paso.
Rocco is survived by his wife, Graciela A. Viera; his daughter Cynthia Viera; sons, Robert and Andy Viera; grandsons Jimmy E. Bitticks (Christina) and Noah A. Viera; and great grandchildren, Alyssa Nicole, Dylan Matthew, Nicholas Ryan and Conner Lucas Bitticks.
Funeral services were held Sunday, Aug. 25. He was buried at Fort Bliss National Cemetery with military honors.