Today marks the 15th anniversary of my wonderful Father’s passing.
Dad was born in Tubac, Arizona, into a ranching family. His father, Grandpa Santiago, had migrated north from Alamos, Mexico, and homesteaded in the valley. Grandpa Santiago taught his children the value of an education and of the need to learn English, and my Dad took the lessons to heart.
He was the only one of the seven children who went to college and then left the Southern Arizona area for work. Before anybody had ever heard of government quotas or affirmative action, he was a hispanic who achieved based on his own hard work, and he rose up in the ranks of the National Park Service. He served as the United States representative on a major expedition to Antarctica conducted by the Chilean Navy, and when he returned after five months on the ice-cutter ship, he was in high demand as a speaker all over the United States.
After Dad retired, he was invited to write his memoirs for the Journal of Arizona History, and he did so. His story, Memories of My Youth at Tubac, From the Old Homestead to Adulthood, was published by the Arizona Historical Society in 1995. Then, in 2004, he and my Mom were featured in Beloved Land: An Oral History of Mexican Americans in Southern Arizona.
Dad was a pillar of the local Catholic Church, a fourth-degree Knight of Columbus, and an active volunteer in the St. Vincent de Paul Society. He spread cheer and Christian charity wherever he went, and he mentored countless people during his active life.
In addition to people outside the family, he mentored his own seven children. He taught us to love God. He taught us about the value of family. He taught us the value of hard work and perseverance. He taught us to get an education and to aim high. By his own example, he taught us what it means to give of yourself and to love without counting the cost. He taught us to forgive and encouraged us to get beyond our differences with others. He bore sorrow with manly dignity, and in the end, he taught us how to die. He chose to die at home, and most of his children were privileged to be at his side when he crossed over into eternal life.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon him.
I miss you, Dad!