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Rolando “Ronnie” Zamora Sr. went home to be with the Lord on Jan. 13, 2022. He was 67. 

Ronnie was born on July 14, 1954, to Manuel Zamora and Maria Rivera in Brownsville. After graduating from Brownsville High School in 1972 and earning his associate’s degree from Texas Southmost College, he continued his studies at The University of Texas at Austin, where he served as the Sports Editor of the Daily Texan and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications. 

Ronnie amassed a stellar career in journalism, public relations and communications over a span of 50 years. His legendary career unexpectedly began at age 16 during the spring of his junior year in high school, when he began writing for the Brownsville Herald. Initially tasked with only turning in sports stats, he tried his hand at writing and found his calling. He worked tirelessly as a full-time sports writer through his senior year in high school and was offered the role of Sports Editor of the Herald soon after graduating. 

He spent the next three years attending school at Texas Southmost College while working full time as the Sports Editor for the Herald. Soon after, he packed up his things, some friends and his girlfriend, Yoli (later his wife), in his 1973 Royal Blue Volkswagen Superbeetle and headed to the University of Texas at Austin in the fall of 1975. 

Ronnie arrived on the UT campus ready to pay his own way with money he’d earned at the Herald, and already having proven his worth as a journalist — but that did not matter when he arrived at the Daily Texan in Austin. He was ready and willing to work harder in order to prove himself, and that he did. By his senior year, he took an opportunity that was not assigned to him, and ended up writing a retirement article about legendary coach Darrell K. Royal that landed him on the front page of sports, and eventually, the promotion to Sports Editor of the Texan. After graduating from UT, Ronnie took a job as the Sports Editor of the Valley Morning Star for two years, then served as a sports writer for the San Antonio Light. During this time, he married longtime girlfriend, Yolanda “Yoli” Tillman in 1978 and the two moved back to Brownsville to await the birth of their first child in 1981.

Ronnie resumed his role as Sports Editor of the Brownsville Herald before a stint as Managing Editor through 1986. Afterward, he transitioned into a new field as the Public Information Officer for Brownsville Independent School District and became the Director of the Public Information Office at Texas Southmost College in 1990. In 1992, TSC merged with the University of Texas at Brownsville, and Ronnie continued as the Director of Publications at UTB-TSC for 14 years before transitioning into a brand new role as the Director of Sports Information for the athletics department through 2012. Following his 20-year tenure at UTB-TSC, Ronnie  embarked on a new opportunity as the Public Relations Coordinator for Los Fresnos CISD until his retirement in December 2021. 

Ronnie’s community service included many roles for which people remember him. He broadcast High School football games on KBOR for eight years and was the Public Address Announcer for football games at Sam’s Memorial Stadium for 16 years beginning in 1986. He played in city softball leagues in Austin and Brownsville as a pitcher for 18 years. In 1988, he joined the Border Fantasy Football League and went on to spend 33 years in that same league, including serving as commissioner for 15 years. 

He has played an integral role with the Rio Grande Valley Sports Hall of Fame, including serving as the Master of Ceremonies for inductions for 25 years, spending 20 years on the Board of Directors and serving two terms as chairman. Ronnie was inducted into the RGV Sports Hall of Fame in 2011 for his illustrious career in sports journalism. 

Additionally, Ronnie coached West Brownsville Little League for eight years, served on the board for St. Mary’s Catholic School and was part of the steering committee for the Brownsville Children’s First Bond Campaign in 1998 that resulted in the construction of the Margaret Clark Aquatic Center. 

He was the Leadership Brownsville Board of Directors Chairman, volunteered at the Charro Days Parade, served on the American Heart Association Board of Directors and received the Leadership Brownsville Distinguished Alumnus award in 2009. 

Ronnie’s faith was very important to him, and he demonstrated it through his loyalty to the church. Ronnie and Yoli served as ushers together for 36 years – 20 years at St. Mary’s Catholic Church and 16 years at Lord of Divine Mercy. Ronnie was also a Lector at Lord of Divine Mercy.

Ronnie spent his life making a positive impact on his community by consistently and tirelessly sharing his talents, experiences and vast knowledge. He was happy to teach, mentor and offer opportunities; he celebrated others, and he saw the best in everyone he met. 

He is preceded in death by his parents, Manuel and Maria Zamora. He is survived by his wife, Yolanda, and three children: daughter Julianna Zamora Rivers (William) of Austin; son Ronnie Zamora, Jr. (Sarah) of Brownsville and daughter Laura Zamora of Dallas; as well as his three grandchildren: Michael and Sofia Zamora of Brownsville and Tillman Rivers of Austin.

He is also survived by his nine siblings: sister Ofelia Cavazos of Brownsville; Lucy Cantu (Anselmo) of Frisco; Ricardo “Ric” Zamora (Theresa) of Saint Louis, Mo.; brother Roberto Zamora (Minnie) of Brownsville; brother Manuel “Nino” Zamora Jr. of Brownsville; brother Rafael Zamora (Gertrude) of Brownsville; sister Genevieve Chavez (Fred) of Brownsville; brother Rodolfo “Roddy” Zamora (Dora) of Mission; sister Esther Robinson (Scott) of Plano, as well as 26 nieces and nephews. 

Visitation will be held from 1 to 8 p.m. with a recitation of the holy rosary at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 16 at Sunset Memorial Funeral Home.

Ronnie’s Mass of Christian burial begins at 10 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 17, 2022 at Mary, Mother of the Church Catholic Church. Committal will follow at Buena Vista Burial Park. Pallbearers will be Ric Zamora, Roberto Zamora, Nino Zamora, Rafael Zamora, Rodolfo Zamora and Ruben Linares. 

To honor Ronnie’s legacy, please consider a donation to the Ronnie Zamora Memorial Scholarship Fund at the University of Texas at Austin. Visit give.utexas.edu to learn more. 

Services are under the guidance of Sunset Memorial Funeral Home, Crematory & Flower Shop. 657 Springmart Blvd., Brownsville, Texas. 

  1. January 13, 2022

    Sending healing prayers and comfort to the Zamora Family in the loss of Ronnie . May he Rest In Peace . Hook ‘em Horns Ronnie

  2. January 13, 2022

    My heart hurts for your dear family, Ronnie. I am going to miss you so much, Amigo mio. You always had the right words to keep me going – “Always keep your head up,” and “Remember God sees everything” were some of the few words that motivated me to push forth. I know our dear Lord has gained an angel who will be watching out for his family from above. Rest In Peace, Amigo.❤️

  3. January 14, 2022

    I was very sad to learn that Ronnie had passed away. I send my sincere condolences and heart-felt sympathy to his wife, Yolanda, to his children, his grandchildren, and all other extended family.
    I truly admired Ronnie’s verbal and writing skills. His politeness and courtesy were reflected in the true gentleman that he was.
    May he Rest In Peace.

  4. January 14, 2022

    Ronnie Zamora Sr. always had welcoming smile as a greeter or usher at The Lord of Divine Mercy Parish. He was also a Lector, a proclaimer of the Word of God who will be greatly missed. My heart is heavy for Yolie and the family. I know God and His heavenly angels returned his gracious greetings a hundred fold. May the Word of my God proclaim Ronnie’s homecoming with joy. I was honored and blessed to have known him May God grant him eternal rest and may Perpetual light shine upon him.

  5. January 14, 2022

    Ronnie will always be in our hearts. He made an impact on my life and I knew if I had a question or concern I could always go to him for help. I am missing him and I’m sad he left but he was suffering so much I know he is resting now, free of pain. Ronnie I have so many memories that will remain in my heart and I thank you for being a great uncle for Bobby,, Leisa and Monique. Just know that everyday I will pray the Rosary of the Blessed Mother for you. May God grant you eternal rest and may His perpetual light shine upon you.

  6. January 14, 2022

    No words can ever be said to on who has sent up an angel to heaven. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Stay strong and keep your faith. Lissa Coronado Maclin

  7. January 14, 2022

    A great friend to have. And I am sure he had plenty of those. The ultimate class act treated you like you were very special. Hurt my heart when I heard of his passing. What a contagious smile that went along with that beautiful soul.

  8. January 15, 2022

    Mrs. Yolanda Zamora and Family,

    Please accept my deepest condolences.
    Sending love, thoughts, and prayers to you and your family during this sad time.

    Josie Campos Villarreal

  9. January 16, 2022

    Our deepest sympathy to the Zamora Family. He is now in God’s hands.
    May he rest in peace.

    Joe, Tillie Lozano and family

  10. January 17, 2022

    Ronnie was one of the first people to make me feel welcome in South Texas when I moved here from New York and went to work at the Herald He was the Sports Editor (while still in high school). Critical to my role as the then Society Editor, his kindness and guidance helped me navigate my way to learning about Brownsville and the cultural traditions of this area. A favorite memory is the tradition of Christmas tamales which resulted in a feature story for the season. Our friendship continued as we both became involved in education at BISD, UTB/TSC. All of you who had a membership in his family are certain to have treasured memories that, hopefully, will sustain you through this time and for years to v come. Robin Garrett

  11. January 19, 2022

    It is with sad heart that I learned of Mr. Zamora’s passing and it was an honor to work with him at LFCISD. He brought integrity and class to the District. I am sorry that I missed his Drive By Retirement Party!and I loved seeing him each year at the Cameron County Fair & Livestock Show as he shot photographs of students in the show. I wish I would have had the opportunity one more time to see him but will certainly thinking of him at this year’s show. Rest in Peace, my friend

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