Remembering My Father On Father’s Day ~ Joseph S. Bueno
Three months ago on March 19th my dad Joseph S. Bueno succumbed to Pancreatic Cancer. Tomorrow is Father’s Day and it is going to be a very difficult day for my family and I. The passing of our loved one is still fresh and this will be the first Father’s Day without him. I thought it would be a fitting tribute to him to post his eulogy I read at his memorial services here in Southern California and in Northern California. The eulogy was written by my sister Chris & I with some great input from the family. We felt as a family that the eulogy was a fitting tribute to the life of our loved one.
My name is Joseph Bueno, Jr. and I am my Dad’s only son. He was born on January 16, 1942 to Antonio and Guadalupe Bueno in Durango, Mexico. He immigrated to the United States at the age of 10. His siblings were Rudy, Magge, Antonio Jr., Ana and Emilio. Our Dad had such a great love for his parents and siblings. They returned that love by spoiling him, especially his Mom. “Pepe” as she affectionately called him, was always waited on hand and foot by his “Ama.” His love for doing the New York Times crossword puzzles came from his Dad, who always seemed to have a crossword puzzle in his hand. Our Dad’s personality was definitely a combination of our Grandma Lupe’s love for a good time and our Grandpa Tony’s quiet but strong demeanor. He definitely had a more lax parenting style, but we all knew that if we got “the look”….. we had better stop what we were doing.
After graduating in 1960 from Cathedral High School (an all boys Catholic school in Los Angeles), our Dad got a job at Bank of America’s Data Processing Center in Downtown Los Angeles. Soon, many of our family members and family friends were also working at Bank of America as a result of our Dad’s influence. In 1989, I myself, joined the BofA ranks. Over the years, I have made contact with various individuals who credit our Dad for their professional and personal successes. In the last few days, I have heard from some of those people and would like to share one of those sentiments with you now:
(quote)”He was a great influence in my career. I revered him for his many accomplishments and his kindred spirit. He was always ready to serve and did it in a humbly manner yet also in control. He leaves a legacy of giving and provided a model for others to follow “(end quote).
Joseph married my Mom, Helen Galindo in February, 1963. Their union created three children: Sandra, Christine, and myself. The marriage later dissolved. Our Dad remarried in August 1986 to Helen Pena which blessed him with another daughter and us another sister, Celeste. He has 8 grandchildren total…Steven, Justin, Christopher, Caila, Aaron, Nathan, Cassie and Julian.
In 1994, he relocated to Bank of America’s Concord offices. He immediately fell in love with the Bay Area life and had no problem adjusting to his new surroundings; despite, the lack of an acceptable Mexican restaurant or Mexican bakery. With his new life, came new friends and golfing buddies, yet he continued his friendships with his L.A. friends. One of his favorite annual trips was a fishing trip to Mammoth that he took with them. He retired as a Vice President in the year 2000, after 40 years of service.
Our Dad spent his retirement years travelling, working around his home, and spending lots of time with his family. Most of you don’t know this, but one of our Dads’ favorite past times was party crashing. We know you’d be quite surprised to hear that, but yes, our quiet composed Dad had a wild side and loved to crash a good party. This of course mortified Helen, but I think, that made it much more fun for him.
Our Dad had a great sense of humor and was the best storyteller. I’m sure there are quite a few of you out there that got to hear his famous “Ilorna” stories and his legendary story about “Falling Rock.” If you were on a camping trip with him, you were treated to these stories and I’m sure a few more. We got to hear them as kids and fortunately our kids got to hear them on their annual camping trips with him too.
Not every kid can say that every summer they got to go on a summer vacation with their grandparents. Our kids can. They got to go to the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park and Las Vegas to name a few. They all looked forward to their annual trips because they knew their Papa Joe would throw all rules and restrictions out the door. They were always spoiled by him, but it was a completely different level during those trips. We would be horrified to hear when they returned, that Papa Joe would not make them take showers for days and they were jumping off cliffs and having bear encounters. They loved his silliness and the new lyrics he would come up with for modern songs, such as his Chicken in the Gutter song. His grandkids weren’t the only ones who had these fun camping trips with him. We kids, also had our experiences. We went to all the BofA picnics, went camping at Three Rivers and Lake Mead to name a few and there were many adventures in “Ghandi” our Dad’s infamous red Chevy van.
Our Dad’s favorite past time was playing golf and I can’t stress favorite enough. He was his happiest when he was on the course. Many of his travels were based on the golf courses in that particular area. He was fortunate to attend the Masters and Pebble Beach to see his favorite golfer, Tiger Woods compete. Despite Tiger Woods’ recent fall from grace, our Dad continued to be his biggest supporter declaring him the best golfer that ever played the game. His Pastor remarked, that with Dad in Heaven now, maybe he can be Tiger’s angel and lead him in the right direction.
Our Dad was very intelligent and well read. You could bring up any topic and he would know something if not a lot, about that particular subject. He loved reading, including his favorite newspaper the L.A. Times. Even as kids we knew not to touch that paper until he had read it. A tradition that my kids will tell you lives on in our household. He also loved watching classic movies with his family such as Close Encounters and Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.
Our Dad was also very sentimental and had such a gift of words. When he sent us cards for important occasions such as our birthdays, he would take the time to write long passages telling us how proud he was of us and the things he found special about us. He definitely made us feel special. He was also affectionate and loving with us.
Helen has said that he was her best friend and soul mate. His nickname for her was Xotchil which is Mayan for flower. They could talk for hours just about anything. Every Saturday, Helen and our Dad would walk the trail by their home to the local bakery where he would order his favorite banana nut muffin and coffee. They traveled a lot together. Every night they would pray the rosary together, which Helen says made them grow closer to God and to each other.
Our Dad was a private man. Never one to air his business, he was particularly sensitive to others knowing of his illness. Because of that, we were not able to disclose the fact that he had been diagnosed with a terminal illness. When he was diagnosed last year, one of the things he told us, was that he had “always been lucky in life”. We were the lucky ones…we had him as our Dad.
I wake up every morning missing my dad and I know it will get better over time but right now my heart hurts because of the void in my life. I hurt for my family and myself. I find myself reliving the adventures my dad & I shared and feeling the happiness all over again.
One adventure that will always be one of the best was the time we spent the night at Edwards Air Force Base to see the Space Shuttle land for the first time. We slept in the car and woke up to witness history. I don’t know that my dad knew at the time that the experience would be one of my best memories with him. I have a whole lot to share but I would run out of space before I was done. We went on trips every year and it was always an adventure. The Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, Las Vegas, La Paz Mexico, Cabo San Lucas and many more.
My dad was the “go to” guy for many of us that needed words of wisdom and a “pick me up” when we were feeling down. I was lucky to have him as my father not only for the good times but for the man and father he helped me become. Last weekend when the family and I were in San Diego, we were eating in a Mexican Restaurant when the Mariachis started strolling and singing. I worried their singing would make us sad since my dad always had Mariachis play when we ate together at a Mexican Restaurant. I called them over anyways and asked them to sing Vicente Fernandez’s song “El Rey” (The King) as a tribute to him, our family’s king. Happy Father’s Day Dad.
The Bueno Men ~ JB #1 ~ JB#3 ~ JB#2