RIP: Manuel Juarez, My Uncle and Padrino

My Godfather (and Uncle) Manuel Juarez passed away last week and a celebration of his life will be held this coming week in Joliet, IL. I grew up hearing about his (and my Godmother Mary Medellin Juarez) work in LULAC and in the Latino community of Joliet and Illinois. He and my Madrina always put their family first–as well as an extended family of nieces, nephews, Godkids, and friends. He will be missed.


Juarez, Manuel “Grandpa” Age 79, passed away Wednesday, October 24 at his home, surrounded by his family. Born in Staples, Texas on June 15, 1933 and raised in San Marcos, Texas.

“Manny” retired from Caterpillar Inc. after 35 years of dedicated service. He lived in Joliet for the past 56 years. Manuel attended San Marcos High School until he dropped out to help his support his family. He was drafted into the Army and served our country from 1953-1955 with a tour of duty in Korea. After he was Honorably Discharged he obtained his GED and attended Southwest Texas State College, currently known as Texas State University San Marcos. He was hired in 1956 by Caterpillar Inc. He was encouraged by management to serve his community. He stressed education to all and detested racism, of which he had endured.

He was a member of LULAC and founded Joliet Council 502. As a member of LULAC, he was Joliet Council President from 1964-1967; State Director from 1968-1971; Illinois Man of the Year from 1966-1967, 1969, 1971, 1985, 1989-1991; National Man of the Year 1971-1972; National Vice-President for Midwest Region; and received an Achievement Award by LULAC President Pete Villa. He belonged or served the following organizations: Organized Night Language Classes for Adults (1966); Organized Pre-School Summer Program for Children (1966); City of Joliet Mayor’s Citizens Advisory Commission (1966-1968); Joliet Community Relations Commission (1968); Latin American Social Club (1969); Will-Grundy County Comprehensive Health Commission Board of Directors (1969); White House Conference on Youth (1969); Founded Joliet Migrant Summer Program (1969); Joliet Migrant Summer Program Board of Directors (1969); Spanish Center Board of Directors and Executive Director (1974); SER Jobs for Progress National Board Member (1978); Illinois Board of Directors East Side CAP; St. Joseph Day Care Center Board of Directors; First Male PTA President of Lincoln and Parks Grade Schools; Joliet Grade School District 86 Bilingual Advisory Council; Joliet Township High School District 204 Advisory Council; Operation PUSH Board of Directors; United Way Board of Directors; While working with the United Way, he was instrumental in obtaining funding to start Joliet Area Community Hospice; Joliet-Will County Commission Action Agency Board of Directors and Vice-President. He received the following awards: Joliet Jaycees Man of the Year (1968); Joliet Jaycees Distinguished Service Award; Outstanding Young Men of America (1970); Joliet Community Relations Commission Community Service Award (1973); PTA Life Membership (1973); Good Citizen of the Month City of Joliet (January, 1976); Spanish Center Exceptional Board Member (1978); Country of Mexico Federacion Mexicana de Lucha de Aficianados (1982); Department of Justice F.B.I. Outstanding Service Award (1989); Caterpillar Inc. Outstanding Volunteer Community Service (1991); Spanish Community Center Outstanding Service Award (2012). He was a 50-year parishioner of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Chapel /Church. He founded the Mt. Carmel Credit Union. He received the Mt. Carmel Parish Council Church Award in 1977 and 1980. He was the long-time bookkeeper for the church.

Manuel worked hard for his community yet always made time for his family.

Loving father of Maria Juarez (Greg) Mendoza, Antonio (Helen nee Rangel) Juarez, and Rosa Juarez; proud grandfather of Angelica (Bryan Niedermeyer) Juarez, Manuel (Nikki Martinez) Mendoza, Jesse and AJ Juarez; great-grandfather of Nicolette Juarez, Donte Plese, Aiden Mendoza and Tristan Salinas; caring brother to Frances Juarez, Victoria (late Luther) Sowards, Gloria (late Yesidro) Garcia, Mary (late Juan Munoz) Juarez and Mauricio Juarez; sisters-in-law Florencia and Olivia Medellin; brothers-in-law Manuel (Bea) Medellin and Manuel (Regina) Cerna. Grandfather figure to many, especially the Hernandez, Gutierrez, Garcia, Rodriguez, and Guerrero families; godfather of 33 and numerous nieces and nephews along with his beloved pet Chihuahua, Petunia.

He is preceded in death by his beloved wife of 45 and one-half years, Mary (nee Medellin); his parents Ascencion and Julia (nee Tristan) Juarez; brothers Aurelio, Roberto, Sergeant Mateo Juarez Killed in Action in Vietnam and Juan (infancy); sisters Teresa (late Juan)Ortiz, Annie, Guadalupe (infancy) and Juanita Isabel (infancy); in-laws Manuel and Antonia (nee Reyes) Medellin; brothers-in-law Olegario (late Josefina), Anastacio and Joaquin Medellin; sister-in-law Concepcion (late Gilbert) Garcia and Jose Luis Reyes, whom he helped raise.

Special thanks to his long-time care taker and daughter-in-law, Helen.

Funeral arrangements in care of: DELGADO FUNERAL CHAPEL, 400 Landau Ave. at Jackson St., Joliet, Il. 60432 (815) 774-9220. Family will receive friends at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, 205 E. Jackson Street, Joliet, IL, on Monday, October 29, 2012 from 3:00-8:00 PM (NOT AT FUNERAL CHAPEL). Final visitation will be at 9:30 AM with a Mass of Christian burial at 11:00 AM on Tuesday, October 30, 2012. Interment following at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery, Elwood, IL scheduled for 1:00 PM. Contributions in his memory can be made to Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church Building Fund and to the Joliet Area Community Hospice.

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