Leonel “Leo” J. Castillo
11/29/1954 – 04/16/2013
Leonel J. Castillo (Leo), grandfather, husband, Mason, non-profit volunteer, Vespa enthusiast, barbecue master, great human being, and awesome dad, passed away after a hard fought battle with cancer. True to his style, Leo stayed tough until the end, and never wanted his illness to impose on anyone. He never let on that he was sick because he never wanted anyone to worry about him. He was an inspiring human being.
Born in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua on Nov. 29, 1954, Leo’s family moved to Los Angeles in 1967 where he attended Garfield High School in East Los Angeles. It was at Garfield where Leo began to love the game of basketball and he also met a beautiful girl named Dina Gutierrez, who would later become his wife. He played all four years on the varsity team and was offered scholarships to various universities to continue his basketball career. Ultimately, he chose love and happiness over sports and attended UCSB where Dina had enrolled the previous year.
While attending UCSB Leo become involved with various student groups and non-profit organizations. It was very important to Leo to help minority students become successful at UCSB, and began his dedication to helping them as a mentor, friend and teacher. Leo had a profound and positive impact on the people he met while attending UCSB. The people he met there became life long friendships, and they were relationships he valued tremendously. To Leo, education was the key to success, and he made it his mantra.
After graduating from UCSB, Leo worked for Hydronautics of Goleta, POPCO also in Goleta, La Cumbre Middle School in Santa Barbara, and the Santa Barbara County Elections Office. After retiring, Leo started his own business and spent the rest of his free time as a volunteer at various non-profits, most notably the Westside Boys and Girls Club, Open Alternative School, and the Endowment for the Youth.
For the past seven years, the most important things in Leo’s life were his three grandchildren, Leah, Christian, and Celeste. He would often spend time eating lunch with his grand daughter Leah at her school, picking up his grandson Christian on his Vespa, and taking little Celeste for a walk. He always made time to play with them and even in his last days he would make a great effort to show them just how much he loved them. He always used to say that his grandchildren are what kept him going everyday, and they loved him with every ounce of their little bodies.
Leo was a master on the grill. He specialized in ribs and tri-tip. After many years of making both he had developed a secret rub that made his food delicious and had friends lining up every time he cooked. Later in life he also had a great deep fried turkey recipe and he made it a point to always fry an extra turkey to share with the kids and staff of the Westside Boys and Girls Club. Leo, like many of us, also had a weakness for sweets that he loved to share with those around him. In particular, he was quite fond of carrot cake from Trader Joe’s.
In 2011, Leo joined the Masonic Lodge in Santa Barbara No. 192. It was one of the highlights of his life as he was also very proud to be part of such a noble organization. While there he worked to implement a reading program for our local schools, helped with fundraising, and was always around to help a brother in need. He loved his other brothers dearly and did his best to be a just an upright Mason.
Leo is survived by his wife of 34 years, Dina G. Castillo, son and daughter in law Rodrigo and Ivonne Castillo, daughter Gabriela Castillo, and grandchildren: Leah, Christian, and Celeste. His close friends and extended family in Texas, as well as his two brothers Ruben and Javier will also miss him greatly.
Please join us in celebrating Leo’s life on April 27th, 2013 at the Masonic Center located at 16 E. Carrillo St., Santa Barbara, CA at 11am. A reception will follow after the service. Since this is a celebration of Leo’s life, we ask that our guests please do not wear black attire. We want this to be a joyous and memorable occasion. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to Open Alternative Educational Fund (OAEF) at 4025 Foothill Rd., Santa Barbara, CA 93110
Leo will always be remembered and loved by all who knew him.
Arrangements entrusted to Pueblo del Rey Funeral Services, (805) 895-8409