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OBIT: Raul Villanueva, M.D.

MISSION - Dr. Raul Villanueva, M.D. passed away Wednesday, Feb 29, 2012 at his residence in Mission. He was born on June 8, 1931.

He was preceded in death by his first wife, Eloisa Garcia de Villanueva; and his brothers and sisters.

Survivors include his wife, Francisca Guadalupe Sanchez de Villanueva; their daughter, Katheryne; children from his first wife, Eloisa, Raul, Norma, and Gilberto; and three grandchildren.

Born and educated in Monterrey, N.L., Mexico, Dr. Villanueva moved to the United States in the late 1950s. By 1961 he had opened his first private medical practice in San Antonio while also working as a staff surgeon with the Santa Rosa and Baptist Memorial Hospitals. He completed his residency in physical medicine and rehabilitation and started a career developing rehabilitation programs for the Department of Veteran Affairs.

Dr. Villanueva then worked for M.D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute in Houston as a pioneer in the work of rehabilitation with cancer patients. During this time, he developed prosthetic, orthotic, and diagnostic techniques still in use today. He became a consultant to the National Cancer Institute and the World Health Organization, and was invited to participate in conferences throughout the United States, Mexico, South America and Europe. He trained medical students at the Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Texas, as well as working with many hospitals in the Houston area to establish or grow their rehabilitation programs.

In 1981, Dr. Villanueva moved to the Rio Grande Valley where he opened the Hidalgo-Starr Rehabilitation Clinic. During this time he was awarded two first place research awards at the Texas Medical Association conference for his work with ergonomics, injured workers, and chronic pain. He later retired to a small private practice on Nolana in McAllen, where he completed 50 years in practice as a member of the Texas Medical Association.

Visitations were held March 1 at Rivera Funeral Home in Mission. His remains were cremated.

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