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Posted on May 26, 2017 | 12:28 p.m.

John Rivera of Santa Barbara, 1948-2017

Source: Jimmie Rivera

John Rivera
John Rivera

After a courageous battle with cancer, John Rivera left us on May 6, 2017, at his home in Cambria, California, surrounded by the love of his family and friends.

John was born in 1948 in Santa Barbara to Felix and Emerita Rivera. Growing up on the east side of Santa Barbara, John attended Franklin Elementary and Santa Barbara Junior High School.

In 1963, his family moved out to the Turnpike road area. John attended San Marcos High School, even though he wanted to follow in his big brother’s footsteps and become a SBHS Don.

At San Marcos, John became an outstanding athlete competing in track and earning the most valuable running back award his senior year in football.

To this day, people from all over Santa Barbara remember John and the memorable defeat of the powerhouse Dons in football for the first time by the SMHS Royals.

After graduating from San Marcos, John joined the Air Force. He served a tour in Vietnam and after his honorable discharge returned home to pursue his education.

John attended SBCC where he excelled in the classroom and played on the football team. At SBCC John earned the “Hombre” award for being one of the most improved and hard-nosed players on the team. John went on to attend UCLA and graduated from UCSB.  

John began his career with the California State Parks system in 1976 as a park aide in Santa Barbara County, then transitioned to park ranger. He retired in 2011 as a maintenance supervisor.

While working and in retirement, John was a tireless volunteer in Cambria. He enjoyed coaching kids both in soccer and football. Both his boys were active and he was there — but not only for his own kids —he was honestly and wholeheartedly there for them all.

The Cambria Co-op Preschool, Cambria Grammar School PTA, and Coast Union Boosters all benefited from John’s willingness to lend a hand.

John is survived by his wife Stephanie Arehart; sons Sam and Maxx Rivera; mother Emerita Rivera; brothers Felix Jr. (Cean), Fred (Dianne) and Jimmie (Liz); mother-in-law Judy Arehart (Gene); brother-in-law Steve (Kathy); and sister-in-law Jill (Betz).

He also is survived by his nieces Monica, Kathleen, Tina, Gina and Maria; nephew Solomon; extended family and an extremely vast array of friends and admirers near and far.

John was a voracious reader, with mystery and science fiction novels being his favorite. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to the Cambria Education Foundation Library Fund in Honor of John Rivera at cambriaeducationfoundation.org.

A celebration of John’s life will take place from 1 p.m. to dusk on Sunday, June 4, at the grassy area at William Randolph Hearst Memorial Beach (The Cove).

There will be a tri-tip and chicken barbeque provided but we ask that you bring a dish to share, BYOB and beach chair. Dress in layers as the weather is unpredictable at the cove.

A memory book for Sam and Maxx will be available for you to share your stories and photos, of which there are many.

— Jimmie Rivera.


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