Santiago Perez Jr.: 1983-2018

Chaguito, my brother, was not only the best brother; he was an amazing son, uncle, father, and husband. He built friendships with everyone he crossed paths with. My brother’s hard work and dedication, his passion to help others, his unquenchable sense of humor, and his humble, caring heart will always be remembered and deeply missed.

Santiago Perez Jr. was born on Sunday, September 25, 1983, at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. He was the youngest in the family and attended local schools: Harding Elementary School, La Cumbre Middle School, and San Marcos High School, Class of 2001. After graduating, he enlisted in the Marines and began his training at Camp Pendleton.

Even though it was hard to see him leave, I was proud of him. One summer when he was young, Santiago had gone to camp on a Friday. He had never been away from home before. We went to visit him the following Sunday for family day, and he ended up coming home with us. He never lived that down! But Santi was known for his jokes and good humor, and he would always laugh with us when we would joke about his camp experience.

Santiago Perez’s boundless good humor and caring heart created instant friends and close family connections.

After Camp Pendleton, Santiago then left for North Carolina for specialty training as a diesel mechanic. As a reserve with the Marines, he traveled to Morocco and Japan, among other wonderful cities and countries, returning with stories of adventures that were so entertaining to hear.

Back in Santa Barbara after his Marine training, he found he had a knack for customer service while working at several banks and at Santa Barbara Honda for three years. His charismatic smile could always make anyone smile back. In 2007, his journey with Thomas Towing began, and his hard work and perseverance turned him into a proud business owner in mid-2018. 

He made countless friends along his way as he was always there to help anyone in need. When the tragic construction accident cut his young life too short a year ago this month, the outpouring of support from his coworkers, friends, and people he had merely come into contact with filled the streets around Our Lady of Sorrows out of respect for this extraordinary man.

He married the love of his life, Mayra Perez, in 2005, and in 2006, they welcomed their son, Santiago III. Three years later, they welcomed their daughter, Bella, and Santiago was beside himself with happiness.

Almost ​— ​almost ​— ​as much as his family, my brother loved baseball! It is a passion that our father passed on to us. Growing up, we took family trips ​— ​big family trips ​— ​to Dodger Stadium. Before the game, we’d all hang out in the parking lot, eating burritos that my parents had packed. As adults, we continued the tradition with our families and our cousins: If there were burritos, they were in!

As a kid, Santiago played in Santa Barbara’s Pony Baseball League, and we spent many hours on the field supporting him as well as traveling for out-of-town games. His team won the All-Star tournament; his name is up on the board at MacKenzie Park. As an adult, he played softball on and off; his last team was the Bad Habits. His number was 24/7. That was Santiago: always on call, always on duty.

He instilled that love of baseball in his children, spending hours and hours coaching each of their teams: Dos Pueblos Little League and Goleta Valley Girls Softball. His dedication as a coach went well above and beyond his own children; he embraced every team member as his own family. Alongside the rest of the parents and coaches, he worked very hard to raise the funds to get the Dos Pueblos Sluggers, his son’s travel league, to play in the tournament at Cooperstown in New York, the ultimate place for baseball. Chaguito loved every minute.

Little Brother, my heart aches for your loss. I will miss the sound of your tow truck outside; your stomping into the house early in the morning, waking everyone up; your loud voice; your laugh; and your pranks. Your loving hugs and contagious laugh and smile will be forever missed.

Our beloved Santiago departed from our side on Monday, December 3, 2018, at the young age of 35. He is survived by his ever-so-strong parents: Santiago Sr. and Avelina Perez; his wife, Mayra; and his children, Santiago III and Bella; his sisters, Gabriela and Rosalina Perez; his nieces and nephew, Diana, Maria, and Cesar Gonzalez, and Noelia and Mia Cervantes. Santiago is also survived by his large loving family, both near and far, of aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews, and an extensive community of friends to whom he was dedicated.


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