Farming Agriculture 05

Ralph Perez Sr.

July 1, 1932 ~ May 24, 2023 (age 90) 90 Years Old



Ralph Perez Snr. passed peacefully at the age of 90 on May 24th, 2023. Ralph was in his home when he left us, as was his wish.

Ralph Perez was born in Porterville, California on July 1st, 1932. He was the second child of fifteen, and the oldest boy. He worked on various agricultural farms from a young age and learned how to work on engines and mechanical devices. His cousin showed him how to run a bulldozer, and he eventually became an operating engineer under Local Union 3. He worked for several heavy construction companies, including Doc Reynolds Construction, Lloyd Rodini Construction, Eilert and Smith, Oliver de Silva, and partnered with Larry Wells. Ralph became one of the first latino/Native American foremen and superintendents with the Operator's Engineers union. His best friend and adopted second son, Larry Gapuz, started as Ralph's apprentice and worked with him through his career. Ralph retired at Granite Construction in 1991. Ralph's son also had a long career working in heavy construction thanks to the many skills his father had passed on to him.

In 1952, he married his teenaged sweetheart, Marie Mata. Ralph worked very hard and in 1960 they purchased their first house in the Cambrian Park area of San Jose. Ralph, the perpetual handyman, not only kept all facets of their house in working order, but also remodeled and expanded the house to accommodate his family of four (wife plus one girl and one boy) adding a large family/entertainment area, including a a well-stocked bar around which friends and family would gather for spirits and stories of heroics and hijinks.  His construction co-workers remembered him as tough but fair, a man who never swore - a rare habit amongst heavy construction workers of the sixties and seventies (it is rumored, however, that he did cuss a couple of times when his teenaged children snuck out at night or wrecked their cars).

He was involved with the Mexican American Club and helped to organize dances and events, keeping exact financial records and ensuring the fiestas had everything to create a great party. Although he was unable to join the service, he learned how to parachute, and then to fly, and earned his pilot's license.

Ralph always offered to help those in need, especially those in his neighborhood. He gave a lot of his time assisting older folks and single females with fix-it jobs they could otherwise neither perform nor afford.

It was Ralph's wish to be interred together with his wife at Los Gatos Memorial Park. At a later date, a memorial will be held for Ralph and Marie and friends and family will be notified as to when and where to attend if they wish. In the meantime, memories and kind wishes may be left on his Legacy page.

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