1970 Lubbock tornado kills mother of five - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock


1970 Lubbock tornado kills mother of five


By Ann Wyatt Little - bio | email

Lubbock, TX (KCBD) – Twenty-six names are etched in stone at monuments across the city of Lubbock and in our history. They lost their lives 40 years ago and each family has a story, but this is the story behind the last name on the list, Pauline Zarazua.

If you sit in her chair at the 82nd Street Barber Shop, you hear stories. For Josephine Quirino, one story tells itself she shared it so many times. At just seven years old, what happened on May 11th would change her life. "All she wanted to do was come home and be with us and take care of us," says Josephine.

"She talks about the whole tornado before finally at the end she says her mom died in it," says Gail Stanford, the barber who works next to Josephine.

It started to rain that night and Josephine's grandfather told her brother and sisters to come inside. "I've never been through war but I picture it being like that," she says about that night.

Josephine's parents were at work and her mother called home. "I remember crying to her mommy mommy come home. All of us got the chance to talk to her," says Quirino.

Pauline Zarazua's co-workers begged her not to leave, but the mother of five decided her children needed her. Her grandfather put blankets down in the house and told the children to start praying. "I remember being a kid and thinking I do not want to pray I'm too scared," Josephine recalls.

But it was prayers that this family would rely on as the sun came up early on the morning of May 12th. "I just stood out here and waited for her to come home, but she never did," says Gloria Pena, Josephine's older sister who was 10-years-old when the tornado hit. "The next day there were a lot of people here at the house and I didn't understand that," says Josephine's younger sister Rita Zarazua.

Everyone was looking for Pauline. Her body was brought to Smiley Wilson where a temporary morgue was set up. Josephine's dad, Jose, spotted his wife in the gym by the wedding ring he put on her finger back in 1958.

The twister tossed Pauline's station wagon off the road. "If she had just stayed at work and hadn't come home she would have been okay," says Josephine.

Josephine's father raised all five kids and never re-married. "He could never find someone to replace her," says Josephine. Three years ago, Josephine's family buried her father next to their mother.

Every May, the family visits the Lubbock Cemetery, a solemn reminder of the day their mother was taken away. "I think what has healed me is being a mother myself," says Quirino.

Each spring, if you sit down for a trim you will hear Pauline Zarazua's story, a story that changed her family and her city forever.

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