Cleo Bustamante, Sr.

Cleofas (Cleo) Bustamante Sr. was born in the Asherton area of Dimmit County, the eldest of three children.  In 1931 at the age of 7, his father died, and Cleo helped his mother as much as possible with chores and provided money for the family which included sister Mary and brother Julian. The family had two milk cows. Cleo would milk them, and then take the fresh milk, offering for sale door to door, to supplement the family’s income.  He would help his mother plant vegetables in the spring, then after the harvest, he would take the fresh corn, tomatoes, squash and cantaloupes house to house to sell.  The family later acquired a donkey, and a number of pigs. The donkey was used by Cleo to hitch a small cart to haul cactus pear and mesquite beans in from neighboring pastures to feed the pigs.

The years were lean, and money was short.  Cleo left formal schooling-St. Thomas Catholic School-in the eighth grade and began working in the farm fields of the area to provide support money to supplement his mother’s meager earnings.

Cleo joined the United States Army still a teenage in the early 1940’s. He served with honor and was honorably discharged at the end of his commitment.  After the World War II, he found employment in Laredo, Texas, working in the dry cleaning business.  Upon returning home to Asherton, he found that his mother had saved for him most of the money that he used to send her during his Army service and employment in Laredo, Texas.  Shortly there-after, he married Martha Aguirre also a native of Asherton.  The young couple moved to Carrizo Springs in the early 1950’s and there they began his first business venture……………. Cleo’s Supermarket.  Throughout the 1950’s, 60’s, 70’s, his business grew by leaps and bounds to include various real estate holdings along with Cleo’s Fried Chicken and Mexican Food restaurants, convenience  stores, liquor store, car wash, Laundromats, Pizza Inn and a number of other endeavors.  Cleo Bustamante once seen as a child vegetable and milk street vendor, later as a hand working in farm fields was now the leading Hispanic business man in Carrizo Springs area.

In the mid 1970’s after Cleo Bustamante Jr. returned home from college with a MBA.  Cleo Bustamante Enterprises Inc. was organized.  The business continued to grow and flourish over a 5 county area.

Today Cleo Bustamante Enterprises, Inc. has interest in two Subway franchises, four Church’s Chicken franchises, and two car washes.  In 2003 Cleo Bustamante Enterprises Inc. was awarded Subway’s Franchisee of the Year for all of the United States and Canada.  This is a very prestigious award considering that over 20,000 Subway restaurants are located in the geographical area. In 2013, Cleo Bustamante was awarded Subway Franchisee of the Year for the Southwest Region of the United States Market.

With the expansion of Cleo’s business interests, have come new opportunities for area people: opportunity for advancement in the business work; opportunity for convenience to the consumer.  People gainfully employed, contributing to the progress of the community.  Because a little boy left fatherless at the age of seven, grew up to value honesty, Christian principles, a belief in the Golden Rule; because as a little boy he grew up believing that success is possible when one person works hard and dreams big.

Cleo is the proud grandfather of three grandsons; Matthew, and twins boys: Andrew and Brian. Cleo lives in Carrizo Springs with his charming wife Martha and of course he loves his daughter-in-law, Brenda Bustamante.  His favorite saying is one that his mother taught him: “IT IS NOT HOW MUCH YOU MAKE, BUT HOW MUCH YOU SAVE”.

Accomplishments and Office:

Past Member of the Carrizo Springs Independent School District Board of Trustees.

Past Member of Our Lady of Guadalupe Finance Council

Past Member of the Dimmit Memorial Hospital Board

Past Member of the Carrizo Springs City Council

Past Member of the Board of Union State Bank

Actively involved in summer youth programs sponsoring baseball, t-ball and softball leagues.

Elected Dimmit County Man of the Year in 1978

City of Carrizo Springs, Patriotic Award 1992

In 1974, Cleo represented Carrizo Springs at the South Texas Senior Olympics in Laredo and placed 3rd in the mile run in the over 50 year old category.

Martha Bustamante

Martha Bustamante was born in 1926 in the Asherton area of Dimmit County, the 5th of eight children, to Jose and Nicholasa Aguirre.  At the tender age of four years old Martha was involved in a horrible accident.  She suffered severe 3rd degree burns to her back.  She was in bed and unable to stand up for months.  With medical care inadequate and limited at the time, she endured her pain and was cared for with home remedies.  She had to learn to walk again and did not walk normally until she was six years old.

Martha attended St. Thomas Catholic School in Asherton up until the 10th grade.  At that time Martha decided to help her mother and father, who were farmers in the area.

Soon after, Martha moved to Eagle Pass to live with her sister Tillie and work at a dime store.  Martha would go every Friday by bus from Eagle Pass to Asherton and take her earnings to help her parents.  After about a year, she again followed Tillie and moved to San Antonio and worked at a prominent department store on Durango Street.  She enjoyed going to the movies at the Texas Theater.  She later moved back to Asherton for a while, and then moved to Sunnyside, Washington, to work and live with her sister Josie in the agriculture industry.

In Washington, Martha oversaw accounting for all the potato sacks that were loaded unto the one-ton truck that she drove to the warehouse from the potato fields.  She lived in Sunnyside for about two years.  While in Washington, she would write to her friend Cleo in Asherton and keep up with the local news and happenings.  Martha heard rumors from her sisters in Asherton, that Cleo was an avid dancer at the local dance hall.  Of course, he denied everything.

In 1946 Martha moved back to Asherton and rekindled her friendship with Cleo Bustamante and in 1950, they got married at the Immaculate Conception Church in Asherton.

Soon after their marriage, they started their first business in Carrizo Springs.  Subsequently their son, Cleo Jr. was born.  Their business flourished and today Cleo Bustamante Enterprises, Inc. does business in two South Texas Counties.

Martha has been very active in the Carrizo Springs Community.  She was selected Women of the Year in 1989.  She is actively involved in Our Lady of Guadalupe Church serving in the Finance Council and various festival committees, including the famous cakewalk at the annual festival.  She is a Eucharist Minister and a member of the Catholic Daughters of America.  In the 1970’s Martha served on the Carrizo Springs ISD School Board.  For many years she has been a volunteer at many school functions.  Cleo and Martha sponsored the Bustamante Family Christmas Dinner at the Pizza Inn and later at the Church Hall for some time.  In 1992, Martha along with Cleo received the Patriotic Award from the City of Carrizo Springs.

However, Martha’s pride and joy are her three grandsons; Matthew, Andrew and Brian.  She loves her daughter-in-law Brenda, like the daughter she never had.  She endeavors to teach them that prayer, hard work and endurance will lead them to a successful and fruitful life.