Colonel Thomas Ruben Hidalgo

1920 – 2022

Santa Barbara native son, Colonel Thomas Ruben Hidalgo, SBHS Class of 1938, passed away peacefully at his home, on October 22, 2022 at the age of 102 years. Born in 1920 to Tomas and Severa Hidalgo in Santa Barbara, CA. Preceded in death by both his parents, sisters, his brother and his loving wife of 72 years, Jennie Nieto Hidalgo. Jennie and Thomas were married in November of 1942 in Santa Barbara, CA where they lived and raised five children.

Thomas began his military career by taking ROTC classes at SBHS where he competed and won a medal for Close Order Drill. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1939 and was sent to Europe with the 980th Field Artillery Battalion during World War II. He was engaged in battles and campaigns in Normandy, Northern France, the Rhineland, Ardennes, and Central Europe. He distinguished himself in service to his country by earning the Bronze Star, the American Defense Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal, and European African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal.
After being discharged in June 1945 with the rank of Staff Sargent, he went into business with his father and owned and operated Hidalgo Plumbing on Chapala Street in Santa Barbara. He and his father operated their plumbing shop until the early 1960s when the city bought their property. He was an avid Ham Radio Operator and maintained files on hundreds of contacts he had made throughout the world.

In 1950 he was called again by the Army to serve in the Korean Conflict. In Korea he earned the Army Occupation Medal, the Korean Service Medal and a second Bronze Service Star. He was discharged in 1952 from his Korean Conflict duties with the rank of 1st Lieutenant. As an Army officer he continued his military career with the Santa Barbara National Guard where he was called upon many times throughout the years. Some of those additional duties included: assisting fire fighters during the Refugio Fire of 1955, helping to control the streets of Los Angeles during the Watts Riots of 1965 and during the burning of the Bank of America in Isla Vista in 1970. In November of 1977, by Executive order of the President of the United States, Thomas was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal for outstanding service as a Citizen Soldier of the U.S. Army. He was the National Guard Battalion commanding officer of the 144th Field Artillery stationed at Santa Barbara. He later was stationed at the National Guard Armory in Los Angeles until his retirement in 1980 when he retired as a full Colonel. Our family is very proud to know that our father contributed so much to his country.

After his Military retirement in 1980, he continued his civilian life working in the Plumbing Department of UCSB. He was a member of the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee where he negotiated for many of the contract benefits that the University employees enjoy today. He was very proud that he received the Chancellor’s Outstanding Employee of the year 3 different years. At the age of 72, he retired from the University in 1989. In September of 2015, Thomas went on the Honor Flight and visited the Capitol of the United States, Arlington Cemetery, and witnessed the changing of the guard. A trip that he would recommend to any Veteran to attend.

Colonel Hidalgo is survived by his sons: Thomas E. Hidalgo and Robert J. (Annette) Hidalgo. His daughters: Cynthia Patricia (Ronald) Dugger; Stephanie Annette (Lawrence, deceased) Kubecka and Jacqueline Yvette (Michael) Wilson. Grandsons: Thomas M. Hidalgo, Brian P.(Debra) Coker and Sean T. Coker; Andrew S. (Major Cassandra, USAF) Hidalgo; Matthew (Kelly) Hidalgo; Joseph (Angeline) Hidalgo; and Marcus (Candace) Almendras, USN. Great granddaughters: Aubriana, Kylie and Savannah Coker; Gabrielle Almendras and Adrian Hidalgo. Great Grandsons: James and Theodore Hidalgo; Lawrence and Anthony Almendras and Gabriel Thomas Hidalgo.

Arrangements are being made by Welch-Ryce Haider Mortuary with a viewing at the Mortuary at (15 E. Sola, Santa Barbara) at 11:00 a.m., on Thursday, November 10, 2022 and following after, a graveside Full Military Honors Ceremony at the Santa Barbara Cemetery, 910 Channel Drive, Santa Barbara, at 1:15 p.m. He joins his maternal grandparents, parents, and his brother at the Santa Barbara Cemetery where he will be laid to rest in the Veteran’s Section. At this time, the ashes of his beloved wife, Jennie N. Hidalgo who passed on April 13, 2015, will be interred with Thomas. May they continue their marriage in eternity.

In lieu of flowers, our father would request that when you see a soldier in uniform, or a Veteran, that you thank him or her for their service to our country.


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