Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Manuel Esqueda, 1922 - 2005

SanTana's most respected resident, Manuel Esqueda, died on Tuesday, September 6, 2005. Esqueda was battling colon cancer but died as he fell out of bed. He was 83.

Esqueda (shown here in the center with Valna Wilson, left, and Bert Salazar) grew up in the Delhi area and became a local banker but he was known for his fundraising efforts to provide scholarships for sanTana students pursing higher education. He touched so many that a brand new elementary school on Main Street and Warner Avenue here in the golden city was named after him. Ironically, Manuel Esqueda Elementary opened its doors for the first time on Tuesday, the day of his death. It's incredible to imagine that he gave his first scholarship in 1954 and continued to do so until the end. His scholarship receipients include Superior Court Judge Frederick Aguirre, sanTana Mayor Miguel Pulido, UC Irvine Vice Chancellor Manuel Gomez and me, Barrio Marlon Brando. "We have lost a luminary in the Latino community. He showed the way to so many in our community that early on he saw the fundamental value to education," said Manuel Gomez.

I was flattered when I received the Mexican American Youth Association Scholarships (MAYA) and was glad to have met Mr. Esqueda. I was also honored to have been with his MAYA family members that day including the Alcarez, Sarmiento's, Gonzalez and others. We met while I was in high school and I recall he was certainly was on the go ... he talked about sanTana's future, education issues and also expressed concern about youth who lacked direction.

Manuel Esqueda will be missed by everyone.

Funeral arrangements: Visitation takes place Sunday from 4 to 8 p.m. at Saddleback Chapel, 220 E. Main St., Tustin. A funeral Mass will be Monday at 10 a.m. at Our Lady of Guadalupe Delhi, 541 E. Central Ave., Santa Ana.

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