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Raul Bejarano Loya

Posted 2015-04-15 by Sharla
Arizona Silver Belt, Globe, Arizona,
Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Raul Bejarano Loya, beloved husband, father, educator and activist, died peacefully on Wednesday, April 1, 2015, in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Born in Miami, Ariz. on June 30, 1938, he began as a copper miner. Upset by discriminatory and dangerous mining practices, Raul was the first in his family to go to college. He got his M.Ed. from NAU where he married the love of his life, Servita Alfaro.

Servita was also a student at NAU and worked in her grandmother’s Mexican restaurant, La Casita Cafe, in Flagstaff. Servita’s grandmother, Guadalupe “Kima” Lucero, knew that many Latino students at NAU could barely afford to be there. Raul, for instance, planned to make it on a can of tuna per day, that is, until he heard about the La Casita Special! Kima, with only a third grade education, did her part to help others make it through college. She created the La Casita Special, a feast of a meal that she served to the college students for just one dime. Without Servita’s grandmother, Raul and so many others from Miami and Globe would not have graduated and Raul never would have met Servita, whom he deeply loved and adored.

After graduating, Raul and Servita taught in Navajo and Apache reservations, in Ganado and White River, Ariz., where they had their first daughter Anamaria. They eventually moved to the Coachella Valley in 1965 (más o menos) where they earned reputations as dedicated educators and pillars in the farmworker struggle for justice.

In his efforts to expose the injustices faced by farmworkers, Raul met with elected officials. Some ignored him, others laughed, but overall most were content with the status quo. When he tried to raise awareness through the press, the media would report stories only from the point of view of the ranchers.

Attempting to give voice to the voiceless, Raul and his dear friends, Alfredo Fuller and Ray Rodriguez (from Globe), started their own newspaper in a small house on Sage Street in Indio, CA. They called it IDEAL. The archives of IDEAL are kept at UC Berkeley and Stanford University. They are a meaningful part of California history.

For standing up for the humane treatment of farm laborers and against many unlawful but common practices like child labor in the fields, Raul was falsely imprisoned in 1969 for disturbing a “church” service. Really, he was part of a political rally, nowhere near a church, where advocates clapped in unison drowning out Congressman Tunney who didn’t support the boycott of non-union grapes.

Raul began his time at The Banning Road Camp on June 12th, 1969, just two days after his second daughter, Patricia, was born. While Raul was in prison, Servita, continued to be a strong and resilient partner holding the family together and continuing to teach. Represented by MALDEF, Raul and three other co-defendants, Tom Kay, James Caswell and Alfredo Figueroa, had their verdicts overturned by the Supreme Court of California and became known as The California Four.

Raul and Servita faced constant pressure to stop their political activities, including death threats, “We know where your daughters wait for the bus.” But they stood up for what was right in the face of harsh intimidation. Raul’s work is memorialized in many books, including Forty Acres and in university archives.

Raul became a director of the Mexican American Political Association; a Knight of Columbus; and co-founder of the Mexican American Scholarships. During all of this, he continued to teach and eventually he and Servita welcomed their third daughter, Katherine, into this world. The three girls reflected their love of life, bringing Servita and Raul boundless joy and pride.

As a teacher, Raul was an inspiring mentor, loved by his students. Later, he sought an administrator position. Routinely passed up for promotions and noticing so few Latinos in such roles, Raul sued the Desert Sands Unified School District. He never won in court, but 12 years into the suit, he became a Dean and eventually a Principal, paving the way for generations of Latino educators.

As a principal, Raul was a ground-breaking educator who turned a local continuation high school that was housed in trailers into an award winning school, with its own campus, which he named Amistad, meaning friendship in Spanish. When it came to Amistad, Raul’s philosophy was “The difficult we do immediately. The impossible takes a little longer.”

Before “public private partnerships” was even a term commonly used, Raul forged incredible relationships for the benefit of the students of Amistad. Ray Bradbury, internationally renowned author, adopted Amistad and came frequently to inspire the students with his science fiction. Raiders Coach Tom Flores did the commencement speech for Amistad’s graduation. Raul even obtained a donated printing press for Amistad so that students could create their own poetry newsletter called Inklings. Inklings was entered into competitions and the continuation students from Indio won awards year after year. Coming from Globe, Raul related to the students at Amistad. He was not only their principal but a true mentor. He knew that if he could succeed, they could, too, if given a chance.

Raul valued education and raised his children to become alumni at UC Irvine, UC Berkeley, the University of Notre Dame, Boalt Hall School of Law, Stanford University, Harvard University and Loma Linda University.

Raul treasured moments with his grandchildren. Raul and Servita often vacationed with them to places like Hawaii, Barbados, Mexico, Disneyland and the Teton National Forest. His granddaughter Christina fondly remembers telling stories with her Grandpa while sharing cookies and milk.

Raul was a force to be reckoned with, but to his daughters, he was a softy— sentimental, compassionate and caring. He taught them to swim, bike, fly kites, fish and play poker. Never a dull moment, he was even chased by a moose in Yellowstone! He loved saguaros, geysers, redwoods and humming birds. He photographed the sunrise at the Grand Canyon moment by moment. He loved Muhammad Ali; his Kachina collection; and Fiddler on the Roof.

Last year, with family and friends, Raul and Servita celebrated their 50th anniversary at Absinthe in San Francisco.

He is dearly missed by his beloved wife Servita; daughters Anamaria, Patricia and Katherine; “sons” Chris, Carlos and Shaun; grandchildren Christina, Aidan, Raul and Mateo; brothers Gene and Rudy Arellano and their families; “brother” Frank Alfaro and family; and devoted nieces Diane, Stephanie and Anita and their families.

We are comforted that he is now with his beloved mother Petra Bejarano, his father Mike Loya, his step father Eugene Arellano, his grandfather and hero Papa Roque Bejarano, our beloved Kima, his sister Toni Mendoza, his nieces Terry and Beverly Mendoza, his brothers Mike and Max Loya, his compadres Stella and Miguel Alfaro, and his friends Lalo Guerrero, George Oswald, Doug Moore and last but not least, one of his dearest friends who we all miss so very much, the Reverend Mike Barta.

We love you. You are in our hearts forever.

Note: These obituaries are transcribed as published and are submitted by volunteers who have no connection to the families. They do not write the obituaries and have no further information other than what is posted within the obituaries. We do not do personal research. For this you would have to find a volunteer who does this or hire a professional researcher.

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