That word was Adolfo Corral’s famous catchphrase — his response to any situation. At the vigil held in honor of him and his wife, Mary Jane Becerra Corral, hundreds of students, colleagues, friends, and family gathered en masse on Santa Barbara City College’s West Campus to remember the couple’s impact and Adolfo’s “tough” attitude Wednesday evening.
“As I stand before you today with a heavy heart, I am at a complete loss for words,” said Alisha Sanchez, who works in the college’s Extended Opportunity Programs and Services department, where she first met Adolfo. “There is one word that I keep repeating in my head, and that’s ‘tough.’ Yep, Adolfo’s favorite word no matter what the context of the conversation.
“That man saw something in me I never saw in myself,” Sanchez said, sobbing. “He was my go-to, my mentor, my friend, and my number-one supporter.”
The Goleta couple, both 43, were struck and killed in a pedestrian hit-and-run accident on Sunday on Cathedral Oaks Road. Adolfo recently took the position of equity, diversity, and cultural competency coordinator at Santa Barbara City College last summer, though he previously worked in EOPS and STEM, among other departments. Mary Jane was a computer specialist and teacher at La Patera Elementary School in Goleta.
The man accused of killing the couple, Eric Mauricio Ramirez-Aguilar, 39, was charged this week with two counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, among other charges. He is currently in County Jail with bail set at $1 million. His preliminary hearing setting is set for March 9.
The couple are survived by their four children: Azalea (20), Dahlia (17), Dominic (14), and Rose (10). All four children attended the vigil, listening to their parents’ former colleagues and students share the positive impacts they made on their lives. Many described the couple as invaluable mentors both in education and in life. Azalea, the eldest child, was the last to speak.
“He [Adolfo] always took the high road, he always put the students first, and I will miss him every day,” said Azalea, reading comments about her father. “About my mom, someone said, ‘Mary Jane did so much for the students of La Patera, and her kindness extended way beyond the computer classes she taught.’”
Michael Medel, the director of admissions and records at SBCC and a close family friend to the Corral family, sat directly behind the couple’s children with his wife, Assemblymember Monique Limón. Medel knew Adolfo in college but lost contact and reconnected 16 years ago when they began careers at SBCC. They had spent every day working together since then.
“If you knew Adolfo, you knew he created a new meaning for the word ‘tough,’” Medel said. “In fact, he created an entire dictionary of meanings for ‘tough.’…
“Azalea, Dahlia, Dominic, Rose. Your parents were the true definition of heroes.”
The family set up a GoFundMe page that can be accessed here.