Councilmember Gil Cedillo invites all CD 1 constituents to
participate in services scheduled Friday following the bereavement of his
father Gilbert Saenz Cedillo, 84, this past Sunday.
"It's hard to believe that just last year I lost my mother, but it gives me comfort to know that the two of them are together again," Cedillo said in a mass e-mail. "Please feel free to join us at the services [and] thank you all for your love and support during these difficult times."
A funeral for Gilbert Saenz Cedillo is scheduled on Friday, Sept. 13, after an 11 a.m. mass at at 966 Potrero Grande Dr., Monterey Park, 91755. Viewing is set at 10 a.m. before the mass. Services are scheduled on Sunday, Sept. 13, at Resurrection Church, 3324 Opal St., 90023.
Cedillo’s e-mail included the following biographical tribute to his father:
GILBERT SAENZ CEDILLO
January 10, 1929 – September 8, 2013
In the tumult that followed the Mexican Revolution, the
journey for Gilbert Saenz Cedillo begins in Zaragosa, Tlahualilo Durango
Mexico. In the 1920s, jobs were scarce and families were struggling. Looking
for a better life, the Cedillo family set out for California in
search of the jobs at the Santa Fe Railroad in Barstow, California. It
was there that Gilbert Saenz Cedillo was born to Pedro Cedillo and
Mary Saenz on January 10, 1929.
Gilbert Saenz Cedillo had a challenging start to his life. His father passed away soon afterward his birth and his mother returned to Mexico, leaving him and his siblings to be raised by their blind grandfather, Felix Saenz, and his spouse, Sara. At age 13, Gilbert Saenz Cedillo and his friend Fernando Rael set out on their own and headed to Los Angeles. Though they were barely teenagers, they rented an apartment, enrolled themselves in school and found jobs. During his teenage years, Gilbert went to school during the day (starting at junior high school and later matriculating to Belmont High) and worked in the evenings. He had jobs at the Grumman’s Chinese Theater, the Hotel Roosevelt and at a nearby restaurant, washing dishes, doing odd jobs and making enough money to pay the bills. One of his final jobs in Los Angeles during this time was at the American Can Company, a company to which he would return to later in his life.
At age 17, Gilbert left high school and enlisted in the Army. As he later told his son, it was the three squares a day and new underwear that sold him on joining the military. He was assigned to the 82nd Airborne and trained as a combat paratrooper. He was stationed out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina. This was a formative time for him, when he learned to love jazz music and boxing, two things that stuck with him for the rest of his life. He joined an amateur boxing league during his service and maintained this fighting spirit throughout his life. It was also during his time, while on leave in Barstow, that he met the woman that he was to marry and be with for over 65 years. Mary Ruiz once said, “There were many men that I could have married. I chose the handsome one.”
Gilbert Saenz Cedillo and Mary Ruiz moved to the Boyle Heights area of Los Angeles to begin their family, which grew to include five children, Susie, Gilbert, Richard, Phillip and Roseann. He went back to working at the American Can Company where he rose to the level of Master Production Mechanic. Often working twelve hour days, seven days a week, he would come home to his family and soak his feet in a large metal tub, exhausted after graveyard shifts and extreme hours. Work was not easy, but he provided for his family and ensured that while they didn’t always have what they wanted, they were able to get what they needed. It was the closing of the American Can Company factory that eventually allowed him to purchase a home in Alhambra, receiving a lump sum for his years of service when it closed down in 1977.
After the American Can Company, Gilbert went to work for Kern’s Foods in La Puente and finally Starkist Tuna in the Harbor, which is where he was working until he retired, long past normal retirement age. He was a proud union member and shop steward of both the Steelworkers of America and the Teamsters during his career as a Master Production Mechanic.
Gilbert Saenz Cedillo was not very politically active, except for the campaigns of his son, but he was extremely patriotic and it was thanks to him that the East Los Angeles Interchange is named the Eugene A. Obregon Memorial Interchange. Unbeknownst to his son (who was then a State Senator), Gilbert Saenz Cedillo reached out to his son’s Senate staff and asked them to help make this naming happen. Legislation was drafted, submitted and passed by the state legislature, making Gilbert Saenz Cedillo’s one foray into legislative politics a successful one.
Gilbert Saenz Cedillo was both a humble man and a man’s man. He didn’t often start fights, but he would not back down from one. He was fiercely proud of his five children, eight grandchildren (Gilbert, Jr., Samuel, Kristopher, Mathew, Lauren, Adrienne, Natalia and Charlie) and four great-grandchildren (Paxton, Caden, Rubi and Hannah). During his retirement years he spent most of his free time attending his grandchildren and great-grandchildren’s games, recitals, concerts and events. When they didn’t have something specific planned, he’d take them out to a sporting event, often times one of his favorites, the racetrack. In his mind, a child was never too young to go to the track or watch the horses.
Gilbert Saenz Cedillo enjoyed life and loved spending time with his family. In the Army, he learned to be a great cook and it was one of the things he most enjoyed doing with his family, making pancakes and working with his wife to prepare the big breakfasts … though some of the preparations weren’t up to the level of Mary’s. For instance, the sardine sandwiches with cheese and crackers prepared one summer afternoon.
But perhaps what is most remembered about Gilbert Saenz Cedillo is how dearly he loved his wife, Mary, who preceded him in death and with whom he is now reunited in heaven.
Rest in Peace, Gilbert Saenz Cedillo.