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Jesus Mendoza Ortega

1935 - 2017

Jesus Mendoza Ortega, known to his family and many friends as “Guero,” passed away peacefully at his home in Santa Barbara on May 3, 2017, surrounded by his family. Guero is survived by his wife of 56 years, Mary Ortega, daughters, Nancy, Terry and Kathy, grandchildren, Mia, Gabriel and Miranda, sons-in-law Brian and Roderick, and Chula, his adored Shih-poo.

Born in the state of Zacatecas, Mexico, in 1935, the youngest of six children, Guero emigrated to the United States in 1950 at the age of fifteen. After settling in Santa Barbara, he worked in a local lemon packing house, bussed tables at the Coral Casino, served in the US Army from 1959 to 1961, and eventually landed a job with the City of Santa Barbara as a heavy equipment operator, in the street and then water department, a position he held for 35 years, becoming in that time a magician on the backhoe. In those early years, when he wasn’t working or doing things with his kids, Guero played futbol at Dwight Murphy Field. After retirement, Guero became a full-time grandfather, a role he relished. Hitching up their Jayco trailer and going camping was a favorite pastime for Guero and Mary, as were cruises to the Caribbean, Mexico and Alaska.

Guero’s life is a testament to the openness and acceptance of America at its best, to the confidence that enabled America to embrace people from many countries, asking only that they work hard, obey the law, and make a contribution. Guero did all of these things during his long life, raising a family, owning a home, paying his taxes, and giving more than he took. He read National Geographic cover to cover and studied maps of the world. He was husband, father, grandfather, friend, lifelong Los Angeles Dodgers fan, lover of music and animals, and, above all, Mary, his one and only. He laughed with his eyes. His was a gentle, sweet presence in the world that cannot be replaced, only emulated.

The Ortega family wishes to extend heartfelt gratitude to the Friendship Center of Santa Barbara and Hospice of Santa Barbara for their compassion. Please send donations to Alzheimer's Association California Central.

You’ve left us, and we are lost
But if we study the maps you made,
We’ll find our way to the light
Of your laughing eyes
again

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