Hector Ariel “Poncho” Rivera, formerly of Puerto Rico, but living the majority of his life in Rensselaer, Missouri, went to meet his Lord and Maker at 5:00 AM Saturday, March 20, 2021 after a difficult battle with cancer.
A visitation will be held from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM Thursday, March 25, 2021 at the James O’Donnell Funeral Home in Hannibal, MO.
At 5:00 PM on Thursday, March 25, 2021, the American Legion Boots-Dickson Post #174 of Palmyra, MO will conduct full military rites at the funeral home.
There are no funeral services planned.
Arrangements for cremation are under the direction of the James O’Donnell Funeral Home.
Hector was born July 4, 1947, to Patricio and Margarita Rivera in Puerto Rico. His parents relocated to Dunkirk, New York with their two children, Hector and Sonia when Hector was seven. Hector’s father preceded him in death and his mother went on to re-marry Maximino Nieves, who also had relocated from Puerto Rico, and the two raised Hector and his sister in Dunkirk.
Hector graduated from high school in 1966 in Dunkirk. Upon graduation he enlisted in the United States Marine Corp and went on to serve one tour in Vietnam in the Alpha Company 7th Marines. He received an honorable discharge, bronze star, and purple heart during his time in the service.
Upon returning to the states, he met and married the love of his life, Patricia Ann Wilkerson of Hannibal. They married August 19, 1972. They went on to raise a family of two daughters, Becky St. Clair (Curt) of Hannibal and Kim Hays (Chad) of Monroe City.
Hector and Pat were blessed with a granddaughter and grandson from Becky and Curt; Courtney Berghager (Levi) and grandson Casey St. Clair (Kristen Frost). Courtney and Levi went on to give him a great granddaughter, Maesyn Berghager on November 15, 2019.
Kim and Chad extended the blessing with two daughters, Makenzie and Marissa, both of Monroe City.
Survivors include his sister, Sonia Calvert (Carl); mother-in-law, Kathryn Wilkerson; brother-in-law, Charles Wilkerson (Beverly); and numerous nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his father, Patricio Rivera; mother, Margarita; step father, Maximino Nieves; father-in-law, Howard Wilkerson; and infant granddaughter, Mariah Hays.
Hector was employed at Atlantic Buildings, Independent Printing, and completed his working career with American Cyanamid, after working 36 years. He retired July 13, 2012.
Hector went on to live a life of leisure, camping in his 5th wheel in Canada and Fredona, NY and playing golf in Palmyra and Monroe City. Hector was a “snowbird” and spent his winters in sunny Destin, Florida. He enjoyed watching NASCAR with his favorite drivers being Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Carl Edwards. One could say, after his military service, Hector lived a carefree and easy life. To Hector, a hard workday consists of cutting and trimming the grass. However, he worked hard at building a happy family, making friends, creating memories, and joking with and making people laugh. He had that work perfected, ask anyone who knew him.
Hector was a Catholic by faith. You may ask, “What does that mean?” It means that Max and Margarita saw to it that Hector and Sonia were raised in the Catholic church, attended regularly, and learned and accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. For those of you reading this and believe the same, you can look forward to seeing him again.
Rest in eternal peace and thank you for teaching us that relationships with family and friends are the most important things to work on this side of heaven. We came into this world with nothing and will leave the same. The only thing we can take with us is memories.
In lieu of flowers, the family request memorials be made to the James Cary Cancer Center or St. Jude’s Children Hospital.
The family wishes to extend a special thanks to Doctor Bari and the staff at the James Cary Cancer Center. These folks are amazing and are very special people.
Online condolences may be shared and video tribute may be viewed at www.JamesODonnellFuneralHome.com.