“My dad was a compassionate, generous, humble, philosophical, intelligent man,” said Susan Sifuentes Trigueros, remarking on the passing of her father, longtime community activist and writer Frank Sifuentes.
Sifuentes died on Oct. 8; he was 80 years old.
He was born in Austin, Texas on May 18, 1932 and was one of 13 siblings.
Sifuentes served in the Navy during the Korean War. He went on to graduate from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History with a Minor in Spanish.
According to Trigueros, Sifuentes was “an ardent advocate for social justice and education. She said he always encouraged young people to get an education, and to “pursue their passion.
“He spoke with great pride about a time he helped recruit 66 Latino students to USC when no one was focusing on advancing Latinos in higher education,” she told EGP.
Sifuentes spent many years working with local community based organizations, often as a grant writer.
But he was perhaps best known for his writings, or “cuentos” (stories), which photographer Oscar Castillo said “were taken from his life experience of growing up in Austin, Texas and allowed the reader a feeling of the Chicano experience.”
Sifuentes co-founded “Con Safos” magazine along with several other Latino writers. During the early 1990s he was the magazine’s Publisher Editor, and the coordinator of the magazine’s writing workshops.
On the La Bloga website, where a written memorial sprung up as news of Sifuentes’ passing spread, Castillo noted that Sifuentes wrote under the pen name “Pancho del Rancho,” the same name staff of Con Safos referred to him by.
“He was always ready to help guide his friends and share his knowledge with others,” wrote Castillo, adding that it was Sifuentes who set him on the road to becoming a photographer 15 years ago.
“Frank was a talented Con Safos writer and story teller, but his real talent was spotting potential in young people and encouraging many including myself to pursue their dreams,” wrote artist Sergio Hernandez on the La Bloga site, in a post titled “Frank Sifuentes — A Remembrance by Friends.”
“He was the unofficial ‘Talent scout’ of the barrio. Frank was not a rich man yet he helped so many people financially. I know that I am not alone when I say that Frank has a place in many hearts including mine.”
Sifuentes’ columns regularly appeared in Eastern Group Publications newspapers. Publisher Dolores Sanchez recalled his passion for social issues, his talented writing style, and his ever-present sense of humor.
“He was a good man who will be sorely missed,” added EGP Associate Publisher Jonathan Sanchez
Film and TV director and writer Jesus Trevino credits Sifuentes for setting him on his filmmaking path.”
Trevino tells the story of how he had graduated from college, but was turned down by all the graduate schools to which he had applied, and was facing the draft and Vietnam, a chance encounter with Sifuentes led him to a film school for minority youth. Sifuentes encouraged him to apply, and he was admitted.
“The fictional character George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” is shown how his life has affected so many people positively and how sad a world it would be without him. I think of Frank in the same way. I can’t imagine what the world would be like without Frank having been here to help, befriend and guide so many of us,” wrote Trevino.
His daughter said he instilled pride in culture and the value of helping others in his children.
“He found humor in most situations…even the most challenging and to the very end of his life,” Trigueros told EGP.
Sifuentes was married to his wife Sarah for 58 years. They had six children, eleven grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
A Rosary will be held on Oct. 24 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at All Souls Mortuary and Catholic Cemetery, 4400 Cherry Avenue, Long Beach. A funeral Mass will be held the next day, Oct. 25 at 11 a.m., as the same location.