Serving the community since 1922

Wasconian celebrates 101 years with party

Pedro Gutierrez was born in 1922 in Mercedes, Texas. On Saturday, over 150 family and friends attended a birthday party in his honor.

Shortly after his birth, Gutierrez moved to Burgos, Tamaulipas, Mexico. One of 10 children, he started working at age eight, tending to the family's sheep and goats.

After a family tragedy when his father was killed, he returned to Mercedes at 10. At 13, he started working at a restaurant.

When he was 18, he moved to Detroit, Mich., and worked on railroad tracks to send money to his grandmother living in Mexico. He worked there for five years.

In 1948, Gutierrez married Josefa and moved to Pharr, Texas, where he worked for the Central Power and Light Co. for 12 years.

After 10 of his 12 children were born, the family became migrant farmworkers in Virginia, picking tomatoes, cucumbers and eggplant.

In 1964, the family moved to the Shafter labor camp for two years, then to the Wasco labor camp to work in the fields. He has lived in Wasco ever since.

"Since I moved here, I've been happy, and with the love of God, we have had a secure life."

Gutierrez was a hard-working man and has worked most of his life. When he retired at 70, he worked in landscaping for almost a decade. Afterward, he continued in his free time to work in the garden and doing carpentry work, building birdhouses and dog houses he would sell to have enough money for the family.

He was a loving husband and was blessed with 65 years of marriage. His wife passed away in 2007.

Gutierrez has always enjoyed music; to this day, he still plays the harmonica and accordion. A man of faith, he instilled a strong belief in God in his children. They attended church every Sunday.

His daughter Carmen Martinez said, "He was very honest, a good husband and father, and showed us the values of respecting your elders."

"What I love most about him is that he has always cared for us. He has always tried to give us what we needed when we were younger and even now as we are older. He still tries to be with us."

His niece, Paulita Gutierrez, said, "I see him every week. I like to visit him with my cousin. He talks about the old days and his wife before she passed away. We are a tight-knit family and care about each other very much. We are very united."

"He is still very strong and vibrant, laughing a lot and making jokes."

Melissa Martinez is his oldest granddaughter and spent her young life at his home with him and her grandmother. "I love my grandpa. He's a man of the Lord, and that is one of the biggest values he has taught us."

"He is an inspiration to his entire family. He's held the family together."

Ninfa Martinez, another daughter, said, "He was a hard-working man. We always had food on the table even though there were twelve of us."

"My father taught me morals and the importance of going to church. He spoke to us about the bible and showed us how to work in the fields. It was honest work."

She has learned from him. "To always work toward our dreams. He has been a good dad all these years."

Gutierrez said only God knows why he has lived so long. "I have lived a clean life, not being bothered by external things, living how God wants," he said. "You have to follow God."

"You must dedicate your life to God and not the world. We have to live the life that God gives us."

About his party, he said, crying, "I feel so good that my whole family is here. It's a special day."


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