Pedro Q. Lomeli, 101, of Santa Barbara, passed away at home surrounded by his children and grandchildren, on Feb. 9, 2023.
Pedro was born in Mascota, Jalisco, Mexico, to Filiberto and Francisca on Oct. 23, 1921.
When he was 11 years old, he set out to work in the fields to support his mother and siblings after his father died.
At age 21, Pedro and his brother Crispin came to the U.S. through the Bracero Program as a temporary migrant worker for the citrus industry in the San Fernando Valley.
In 1949, he went back to visit his hometown, where he met and soon married Dolores (Lolita). They were together for 68 years before she passed in 2017.
He stayed in Mexico for as long as he could before heading back to continue work in the U.S. While his time at home was sometimes brief, the constant travel was necessary as his job abroad paid enough to support his growing family.
In 1965, his employers sponsored his permanent residence in the U.S. and persuaded him to bring his family from Mexico. He initially resisted the move because U.S. immigration would not allow his eldest son Jesus (Chuy) to enter due to his illness and disability.
At the suggestion of Dolores’s nephew Raul, and with help from her sister Jacoba, it was decided that Chuy would stay in Mexico with relatives. His wife and children made the journey and stayed with his sister Maria for one year.
In 1966, Pedro purchased a house in Santa Barbara; and in 1970, he was finally able to bring Chuy home to be with the rest of the family.
In 1969, Pedro was hired to help with the cleanup of the Santa Barbara Oil Spill. Later that year he was hired as a groundsman at Santa Barbara City College (SBCC), a job he cherished. He was voted Employee of the Year during his time at SBCC, and eventually retired in 1985.
However, Pedro was not one to sit idle, and he continued with his gardening business until finally having to “slow down” in his early 80s. His work ethic was, and is, unrivaled and inspiring.
He was a man of strong faith and an active member of St. Raphael Church Parish. In the early 1970s, he spearheaded a campaign with fellow parishioners, including Maria Ramirez, to have Sunday masses conducted in Spanish, and he later served as president of the Guadalupanos.
He attended weekly Sunday mass, always sitting in his favorite spot, until his health began to decline in December.
Throughout his life, Pedro ensured that his home would be a place where all were welcome, whether short- or long-term. On the weekends he could be found in the backyard grilling his famous tri-tip, and he insisted all visitors leave with freshly picked fruit from the many trees that grew in his yard.
It was not until he became a grandfather that Pedro’s true sweet, kind, and gentle loving side bloomed. There was nothing that made him prouder than his grandchildren. Whether it was taking them on walks, feeding them oranges from his tree, attending sports games, music and dance performances, or graduations, he was so proud of their accomplishments and witnessing them fulfill his American Dream.
He is preceded in death by his wife Dolores; son Chuy; and all of his siblings.
He is survived and missed by his children Filiberto, Gaspar (Anna), Rosa, Socorro Williams (Daniel), and Matilde Harrigan (William); eight grandchildren Tony (Kayti) and Quiana (Michael Calles) Lomeli; Sara Cook (Michael), Shirley and Luke Williams; Shane, Ian and Patrick Harrigan; and five great-grandchildren Makayla, Daniel and Rylin Lomeli, Nathan and Cara Calles; as well as many relatives and friends in the United States and Mexico.
As a family we would like to acknowledge and send our heartfelt thanks to the many years of medical care he received from Dr. Kelli Miller, Dr. Ambareen Ahmed, and their staff; cardiologist Dr. Gregory Cogert for extending his quality of life; and the incredible VNA team for their support in his final days.
A Rosary Service will be at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24 at Welch-Ryce-Haider Funeral Chapel, 450 Ward Drive, Santa Barbara.
A Mass of Christian Burial will follow at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 25 at St. Raphael Catholic Church, 5444 Hollister Ave., Santa Barbara.