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Posted on August 26, 2015 | 8:38 a.m.

Raul Velasco Ceja of Santa Maria

Source: Dudley-Hoffman Mortuary

Raul Velasco Ceja

Raul Velasco Ceja, devoted husband, father, brother, grandfather, and great-grandfather, passed away peacefully while surrounded by his loved ones on Aug. 20, 2015, after a long hard fight with cancer.

He was born in Guadalupe, CA, and raised in Nipomo.

After serving in the National Guard, Raul came to Santa Maria, and joined the Laborers’ International Union of North America, Local 1222, where he started as a construction worker. He then rose to the position of auditor, president, and finally business manager for 33 years.

As the business manager of the union, he went beyond the call of duty in service to the members of the union. His local chapter was one of the first to include women, and he assisted and advocated his membership in many of their family needs. He remained a member of the Union for 50 years.

Although he spent most of his life on the Central Coast, Raul traveled to Durango, Mexico, often after he retired. He developed a deep love for the Mexican culture, history, and undisturbed indigenous way of life high in the Sierra Madre Mountains of Durango.

Raul was a community leader and supporter of Cesar E. Chavez’ United Farm Workers Union and La Causa.

He was a member of various organizations on the Central Coast and served with organizations that deal with education, social-justice, and civil-rights issues. Raul sat on the Santa Barbara County State Fair Board for many years and was very active in city, state, and national politics.

He was married to Dominga C. Ceja for 42 years, and together they became a driving force helping people in our community whenever they were called on to help, or felt the need to intervene.

He was a big man with an even bigger heart, a gentle giant. His heart was as big as the man. He stood 6 feet, 2 ½ inches with his Stetson Cowboy hat and size 13 boots.

Although he cut an imposing figure, in reality, he was a very humble man who chose to live a simple life. Raul was very generous when it came to helping anybody in need. He gave whole heartedly and never expected anything in return.

Raul also worked in many ways to empower the youth of the Santa Maria area and encouraged them to succeed. In his last days, he worked passionately to inspire the youth in the community to further their education and was paving the way for them to succeed through the group A.S.P.I.R.E..

In his words, “You have a heart, a feeling, a sense of life and what’s around you. You know people hurt and you know you can make a difference.”

He fought tirelessly against injustice and fought for people from of all walks of life. Fighting injustice and helping others were his passions, and it was evident to all who knew him. He will be greatly missed by the many people who love him.

Raul is survived by his wife, Dominga Ceja; his brothers, Robert Ceja, Ruben Ceja; son John; daughters, Dolores, Rachel, Virginia, Vickie, and Liza; several grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and many nephews and nieces.

He was preceded by his parents, Ernesto and Maria Ceja, and his brothers, Ernesto Ceja and Anastacio Ceja.

The viewing will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015, at Dudley Hoffman Mortuary from 2 to 6 p.m. A Celebration of Life will be held on the same day from 6 to 8p.m.

The burial mass will be held at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Nipomo at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015, followed by burial at the Santa Maria Cemetery.

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