As the sun set on the hot fields of Delano, California hundreds of mourners followed a simple pine casket covered with a colorful zarape carrying the body of the beloved Richard Chavez. The procession was the beginning of a two day memorial that would honor a life filled with service to the community of farm workers.
Richard Chavez, the younger brother of Cesar E. Chavez was commemorated by many who recalled his dedication the United Farm Workers and his kindness towards others in general.
Richard Chavez by trade was a carpenter. His brother convinced him to give up his work as a carpenter to join the UFW. It was appropriate that the memorial services were held at the 40 acres in Delano because the structures there were built by Richard Chavez.
During the Rosary and the mass Dolores Huerta was accompanied by Hilda Solis, Secretary of Labor for the Obama administration. She was there as a dear friend of Dolores, and as representative of President Barack Obama.
Many shared stories of how kind and generous of a person Richard Chavez was. His son, Ricky Chavez, spoke of how he would make meals for neighborhood children who would come to his door asking for food. He also said he will always remember his dad’s strong calloused hands, those of a working man. His daughter Maria Chavez spoke of how important family is, “without family you have nothing,” Maria reminded everyone.
A fitting eulogy was given by Fernando Chavez, son of Cesar Chavez. He spoke of his uncle and quoted Roy Rogers, “I never met a man I didn’t like.” That, he felt summed up Richard Chavez, “a friend to all; that was the man I knew, kind and gentle man,” said Fernando.
At the end of the mass there was a presentation of gifts symbolizing Richard’s life.
The UFW flag was presented as he was the one that designed the famous eagle flag. A Chinese wok, representing his love for cooking. A garden plant representing the pleasure he took in gardening. The Chavez Family book a recent work from his latest passion as the family historian. And last of all a golf club. The game of golf was something he truly enjoyed.
Yes, we will miss Richard Chavez, a labor leader, a family man and a true friend.