Luis - “Papa” to his large and loving family - passed away peacefully in home hospice care just after midnight, with family next to him, in Dumfries, Virginia. It was a long way from his birthplace in the Santa Mesa district of Manila, Philippines, but it was a life he passionately enjoyed, especially due to his family.
Luis spent some of his most formative years enduring the harsh Japanese occupation of the Philippines in World War II. But he persevered, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in music to become a violinist with the Manila Symphony Orchestra. He also met the love of his life, Herminia Tantoco, who played piano, and - in a story that has delighted all of his descendants - ran away with her to be married in a provincial town on April 4, 1954. At his passing, they had been married 65 years.
In Manila, Luis and Herminia raised their children Marty, Phielle and Roselle while continuing in music. Luis at times toured the Philippines and Southeast Asia with a small group of string players. But he was drawn to greener pastures and moved the family to Hong Kong in 1968. There they both taught music and Luis was a member of the Hong Kong Philharmonic.
In 1984, Luis, Herminia and Roselle followed Marty in immigrating to the United States, staying in Virginia, California and then Virginia again, and eventually became citizens. Later they would also spend significant time in Toronto, Canada, where Phielle settled. Luis often said he was grateful to have such a loving family, and that he enjoyed moving around his children’s houses at different times of year. The children were delighted as well, and almost every Christmas brought the entire family together. The whole group also often travelled together, the ultimate test of true familial love.
Outside the music room, Luis was an avid private pilot, and even embarked on building his own ultralight plane. He also loved playing tennis, and taught the sport to most of his children, grandchildren and in-laws. Photography was also a hobby, and he worked for several years on writing a private autobiography for his family.
Most of all, perhaps, he enjoyed meeting people and talking with them. He was a fixture in his Toronto neighborhood, walking the dog and chatting to the neighbors. Google Street View even captured him walking there one year. In Virginia, he made more friends when he taught the violin at Music & Arts in Dale City and played his violin every Sunday at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Triangle.
He is survived by his wife Herminia, children Marty Garcia, Phielle Woodward (Berton Woodward) and Roselle Foley (Bill Foley), grandchildren (in birth order) Lewis Garcia, Catalina Woodward (Liam Kennedy), Timothy Foley, Phillip Woodward, Ananda Garcia, Dillon Foley and Mahayana Garcia, and great-grandchildren, Loriel, Logan and Mackenzie Garcia, and Leroy Kennedy.
A memorial/funeral mass will be held on Friday, March 13, at 2 p.m. at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, 18825 Fuller Heights Road, Triangle, Virginia 22172. A reception and celebration of Luis’s life will follow. Flowers or donations to the church can be sent to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church.