Joseph F. Velez, A.B.C. ’95

Joseph F. Velez, A.B.C. ’95, died Monday, Nov. 14, 2022, at his home for the past decade in Duncanville, TX, after two years on home hospice care. 

Velez was born Jan. 29, 1928, in Puebla, Mexico, to Jose M. Velez and Aurelia Damian Maldonado. After elementary and secondary education in Puebla, he graduated from the George G. Lacy Baptist Seminary in Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico, in 1951. Upon graduation, he taught at the seminary for two years. He served as pastor of various Baptist churches including First Baptist Church in Nuevo Laredo, the last church he served in Mexico.

He came to Texas in 1956 as a pastor of the Baptist Mission in Bay City. He graduated with a B.A. in 1962. He then attended the University of Oklahoma with a federal scholarship to specialize in modern foreign languages. Upon completion of his program there, he taught at the University of Oklahoma for three years and received his Ph.D. in 1969. Velez married Madolyn Moore in 1969, and in 1971 he accepted a position at Baylor University as a professor of Spanish. Shortly thereafter he was invited to explore the possibility of establishing a Hispanic church in Killeen. The result was the formation of a Hispanic church, where he served as interim pastor for four years.

In 1974, Velez established the first Baylor University program abroad in Puebla, Mexico, for students to be immersed in Spanish. This program was the model for other programs in Europe and later in other countries of Latin America. For 19 years he was director of Latin American studies at Baylor University. His professional research resulted in the publication of seven books related to Latin American authors and their literature, two collections of short stories and a short religious play. He retired in 2001 but continued to do consulting work.

Velez has been a faithful member of First Baptist Church Waco since 1971. He moved to Duncanville with his daughter, Melinda, in 2013. While living in Duncanville, he attended Hillcrest Baptist Church of Cedar Hill, pastored by Dr. Mike Simmons. He had been a Baylor Bear football season ticket holder since 1971 and continued attending all home Baylor football games with Melinda after their move to Duncanville until he became ill in December 2019.