Obituary: Delia Real Padilla

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Delia Real Padilla
January 15, 1930 – June 12, 2017

Delia Real Padilla passed away in San Diego Scripps Hospital on June 12 where she had been recovering from an unfortunate accident. In her last days, she was comforted by her sons, daughter, nephews, nieces, grandchildren and family friends.

Delia was born in Somerton, Arizona during one of the family farmworker migrations that landed the Real family in Brawley in 1922. Her parents were Dolores Molina and Santiago Real. She was the youngest of a large family, who migrated from San Jose Del Cabo and Loreto, Baja California Sur where her father, Santiago, was a fisherman and pearl diver.

Delia was a believer, rebel and an artist. She was the first in her family to graduate from Brawley High School in 1948. In another era, she would have been able to accept the art scholarship facilitated by art teacher Barbara Jernigan, but the culture of the time frowned on Mexican girls leaving the home unmarried. So, the rebel in Delia eloped and married Joe Padilla, at Gretna Green soon thereafter.

Her artist soul continued in her children and grandchildren whom she inspired with her unending doodles, sketches –  never forgetting her love of pastel colors on a black canvas. She said her dad had inspired that love of unreal color when he would speak to her of the colors he saw on his pearl-seeking sojourns beneath the waters of Baja.

The other Santiago memory was Delia recalling her childish mean streak, when she rode his cotton sack in her “playground,” the Valley picking fields. Delia would always regret the memory of grandpa carrying her extra weight on top of the heavy canvas burden.
Delia, like her husband Joe, considered herself a public servant. After Joe returned home from the war, Joe and Delia married and the marriage lasted for 63 years until Joe passed away in 2014. They settled in Brawley and raised four children.

Both Delia and Joe felt the need to participate in local community activity. At her parish, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Delia was a member of the Altar Society. In addition to serving the church, she was active in the Brawley American Citizens Club women’s auxiliary where she participated in Get Out the Vote campaigns, and voter registration, sometimes driving East Side voters to the polls early into the night.

The example taught her children not to fear political engagement but to embrace it. She would brag that all her children became public servants- in local or state law enforcement, as a poverty law attorney, as a school teacher and administrator and as a school board member.

Local musicians will remember Delia’s love for music- Javier Solis and boleros- and the duet “Los Dos” sung with Joe at the ACC or Hidalgo Hall whenever they asked. Delia never forgave Joe for causing her to miss a Solis concert in Mexicali once, but she also never forgot having met the famous Mexican actor Pedro Infante, as a teenage ticket seller at the Eureka Cinema.

Delia is survived by her children Jose, Armando, Irene and Eddie; their spouses Deborah, Patsy, Carlos and Vivian; her grandchildren Alexis, EJ, Jade, Dados, Michael, Nick, Cherrisse, CJ, Patrick, Dominick, and Nicole and 16 great-grandchildren. She is also survived by her sister, Clara Delgado and numerous nephews and nieces.

The wake/rosary to celebrate Delia’s life will be held on Wednesday, June 21, at Frye Chapel at 6 p.m. Mass and services will be held on Thursday, June 22 at 10 a.m. at St. Margaret Mary Church located in Brawley. Burial will follow immediately at Riverview Cemetery.

The family respectfully asks that in lieu of flowers donations be made in Delia’s name to California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc., to support the rights of farmworkers throughout California. Donations can be sent to CRLA, Inc. at 449 Broadway, El Centro, California, 92243.

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