On Wednesday, relatives of "Goyo and Tony" spoke to exclusively to Examiner.com about the brothers lives.
"They somehow separated their criminal ways from the family," said their nephew Frank Nunez. "As a kid I just knew them as my uncles, kind, loving, and giving. I never feared them."
Though both had been in and out of prison for much of their early lives, neither was prone to violence; drugs got them in trouble.
Serving time for heroin possession each spent one year and five months at Alcatraz after being transferred there from McNeil in 1961.
They were one of ten sets of siblings to have been incarcerated on the Rock during its 29-years as a maximum-security prison.
On the last day, they ate their fill of scrambled eggs and toast, and prepared to leave the island for good.
Cameras flashed and followed them from the moment they left their cells, exited the cellhouse, and boarded the prison launch. As the inmates walked down the boat ramp, a photographer snapped a shot of Goyo just as he closed his eyes. That picture has become the most iconic image of the closing.
"From Alcatraz, Goyo was sent to Leavenworth, and Tony to Atlanta," said their 78-year-old nephew Alfred Nunez Sr. "And by the mid-'60s they were free and didn't go back to jail."
Their niece-in-law Maggie Nunez, 73, of Sacramento, CA remembered Goyo for his fun loving nature and desire for codeine cough syrup. "Shortly after his parole I took him to get his drivers license. He had me stop at a store to sign for the syrup, and he drank the whole bottle," she said, jokingly adding "He passed the test too."
Eventually both brothers married, raised families, and were always endearing to their mother. They were known to be happy and neighborly.
Tony died in 1974 of natural causes as did Goyo in 1984.
Their grand-niece Annette Nunez says the family doesn't shy away from their Alcatraz connection. "Tolerance and understanding are a mainstay of social growth," she said.
An exhibit featuring rare photographs taken during the closing opens tomorrow on the island.
For tickets visit www.alcatrazcruises.com