An inspiration to everyone that crossed his path, sadly Juan Ayala passed away January 8th, 2019. Born in Ecuador and coming to the US as a young man, he was raised in a multicultural environment that helped to form the person that he became – a dedicated activist for Native Americans who lived for many years with the Hopi in Arizona, with the purpose of having a better understanding of their culture and to help to appreciate, respect and work to rescue their traditions.
An educator by profession, he submerged himself on a mission to improve the quality of education for children at risk for many years in Hueneme. Juan had a passion for education and after retiring he continued working as a substitute teacher at numerous elementary schools around the Santa Barbara area. At the same time, he was also a dedicated and enthusiastic parent volunteer that not only helped in his son’s class, but was also a founding member of the Green Committee at Roosevelt Elementary where he dedicated countless hours. Carmen Geiler remembers when she recruited Juan five years ago to start the Green Committe, his words were “What I can bring to the Committee is my experience of working for years to better improve the environment. Count me in I want to give that gift to all the children, to my son Antonio and all the Roosevelt Community.” The Green Committee and Roosevelt Elementary will dedicate an educational Butterfly Garden in his honor.
Juan Ayala was many things – an environmentalist, humanitarian, pacifist advocate, an artist and a visionary. He was also a genuinely spiritual person, with strong values and virtues, a true friend to all. A man that cared so much about others and the planet, that his last words were, “I wish I could save the world.”
He was a mentor for many of us with his words of wisdom, calm presence and his respectful, kind soul. He was always ready to contribute to our community by standing up for what is really important on this earth. Thank you, Juan for your generosity and friendship, all of us that were part of your life will deeply miss you.
A Gofundme page was set up to help his family at this difficult time. Show your appreciation by donating https://www.gofundme.com/f/the-ayala-family-fund