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Tito Villanueva was born May 9, 1935, in Glendora California. He always told his kids he was too poor to have a middle name. He was the sixth of seven children born to Eutimio and Maria Villanueva. His father was a migrant worker, and Tito also worked the fields with his family in central California until high school. After high school he spent four years in the US Air Force during the Korean War. In 1958 he went to Citrus College and then to UC, Los Angeles for three and a half years. He met the love of his life, Judy Petersen, in 1960 when they both were working at the May Department Store in West Covina, California. They were married on June 30, 1962. He worked as a receiving manager and then a toy buyer for the May Departments Stores. He also worked in toy distributing and sales until they moved to Boise, Idaho, on August 24, 1978. Tito and Judy opened Toys n Things at Overland Park until the recession forced them to close their doors in 1981. After that, Tito sold real estate and insurance. In the late 80s Tito founded and organized the first Boise Zoo fundraiser, Feast for the Beast. He then went on to work for the Idaho Migrants Council helping migrants find good jobs while making sure land owners treated them fairly. That job prepared him to work for the Idaho State Department of Unemployment for the next 5 years.
Tito and Judy first recognized their call to missions during their trip to Australia and Vanuatu in 1994 with the Boise Vineyard. Tito preached for the first time on the island of Tanna after hiking in the jungle to a remote village. His dark skin color and white hair earned him the opportunity to speak, and the meal the villagers prepared for the team afterwards was the sign that they received his words. In November of 1995 they sold everything and became full-time missionaries, serving the Lord in Mexico. They served in Los Mochis, Sinaloa; Mexicali, Baja California; and spent 16 years in Guaymas, Sonora, where they planted 3 churches. They moved back to Idaho in May of 2011.
Tito and Judy had deep compassion for the homeless, the throw-aways, and the unlovely, and their street church was their greatest joy. This church is still going today as many others were raised up to serve after their departure. After returning to Idaho they served at Harvest Life Church under Pastor David Whaley, offering marriage and family counseling and deliverance ministry until the day the Lord welcomed Tito home.
Tito and Judy received Jesus as their Savior at a Catholic Marriage Encounter on August 24, 1973. This set the course for their lives, and they raised five children to love and serve the Lord they love. Their early days raising their family in California were filled with Scouting trips and family vacations at the beach. Church was always a priority for them, and Tito and Judy made sure their family was there whenever the doors were open. They ministered to others constantly and were always praying for people to know the Lord or be touched by His healing.
Tito was fun-loving and quick-witted, always bringing laughter to his family. His love for all kinds of music was passed on to his children; weekends were spent listening to the latest LPs and poring over liner notes. His children’s memories are filled with times of lying on the floor in front of the stereo console in the dark, listening to everything from the Beatles to Glenn Campbell to Tchaikovsky. The family swimming pool was a source of recreation and fun in the early days in California, and even though Tito couldn’t swim, he still indulged his children with horseplay. When they moved to Idaho, he was always on-the-ready, pulling trailers and hauling hay to feed the family’s horses. His love for his family was always apparent and would overflow to those around him, making them feel like part of the family. Tito and Judy would open their home eventually to others who needed a place to live, both in the states and in Mexico, thus creating more family wherever they went. They became parents and grandparents to whomever needed them. There was always enough love to go around.
His years ministering in Mexico were precious to him and Judy as they poured their lives out leading people to Jesus. They raised their youngest son, Andy, on the mission field, and they all fell in love with the people of Mexico. They worked tirelessly planting churches and discipling people to know and love Jesus. Their relationships with so many friends in Mexico are still part of their daily lives that they cherish.
Tito was a selfless husband, always doting on Judy and taking care of her, even making sure he always carried a handkerchief just in case she needed it. She was his queen, and his love for her is an example to their children and grandchildren. In his later years Tito was always taking pictures of the latest hobby Judy was pursuing, and his Facebook posts of his wife are legendary. He was so proud of her and so eager to share her talents and adventures with the world…”just saying!” He was so excited when his posts would be “liked,” and he would announce to the room, “24 hits in 3 minutes!” and then he would read every name and comment out loud. Thank you to everyone who brought joy to his life through his social media obsession. Tito and Judy and their children and spouses have been using a family text thread since 2020 where the family stays connected and shares their lives together. Tito would text the family every day and sometimes multiple times a day updating the family on their schedules and activities, always reminding them that he loved them and encouraging them to pray for each other. We already miss those daily reminders as he was very involved in our everyday happenings.
Tito loved people. When you met him, you could sense that you had found a new friend who would love you unconditionally. He would always express his love through tight hugs and besos, asking people to “give me a cheek!” He was a mighty man of God that left an example to us all. Tito loved his family immensely, but he loved Jesus even more and showed it every day in the way he lived and treated others. His greatest desire was for his family to love and serve the Lord like he did.
Tito leaves behind his beloved wife and best friend of 61 years, Judy; his daughter Kim and husband Gary; his son Greg and wife Teri; his daughter Kris and husband Russ; his son Nick and daughter-in-love Roseanna Marcum; his son Andy and wife Chantal; 17 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren and lots of extended family. He leaves a hole in the hearts of all who knew and loved him.
Tito loved well.