Local business owner, community volunteer, and longtime Brawley Wildcat supporter Robert Pinedo was laid to rest this past week at Brawley’s Riverview Cemetery.
While he was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, he laid his roots in the Imperial Valley, growing up in Calipatria and spending most of his adult life in Brawley. After serving in the US Marine Corps he settled down and started a family, spending a few years in the City of La Puente, California.
He married Francisca Pinedo and had four children: Sandra, Jennifer, Frank, and Giovanni. Pinedo eventually decided on a move closer to home, bringing his family to their new home in Brawley, California. And it was in this town, through his son Frank’s own athletic endeavors, that he found himself on Brawley sidelines and gyms, with his full support behind the B-town boys in whatever sport his son decided to be a part. From Brawley Pop Warner in the early days, to Brawley wrestling in high school, it was in attending those sporting events with his family that Pinedo’s love for Brawley’s Blue and Gold grew.
“He would always want to coach whatever team I was on or would always somehow end up helping the coach and becoming a coach,” said Robert’s son, Frank.
While he was a visible presence in the Brawley athletic scene, Pinedo’s athletic endeavors began in Calipatria. While attending school there from 1973-1976 Pinedo accumulated many first-place finishes and course records throughout his track and field and cross-country high school career. While at Calipatria High he also was part of the Hornet wrestling squad. After high school, Pinedo attended Imperial Valley College where he continued in track and field, before joining he US Marines, and ending his competitive running career.
Pinedo was a well-known and friendly businessman, known for establishing local glass repair and installation shop known as PGI Glass in Brawley. While running a successful business for nearly 30 years in the Imperial Valley, Pinedo also utilized his business as a way to help people in tough situations — often employing workers who were either in hard times or had a rough past and couldn’t find employment easily. Through this second chance, many eventually landed on their feet and found other employment opportunities while having learned a new skill as well.
Off the clock, Pinedo was an ardent supporter of local youth sports, where he donated all he could throughout his time in Brawley. From volunteer coaching youth sports through the Brawley parks and recreation, to the Brawley Gladiators, Pinedo did his best to give back to a community he was proud to be a part of.
Pinedo grew up with loving parents who worked hard to support their family. As immigrant workers a lot of their time was spent traveling due to work. While they were very proud of Pinedo’s accomplishments, they were not always there to support him in his athletic career. This is what drove Pinedo as he began to volunteer coach and work with youth. He enjoyed being there for not just his own children and grandchildren, but all the athletes that had been placed on a team he was associated with. He was known for wanting to work with athletes that may have needed a little more work than others, regardless of talent level, and helping them reach their full potential, citing growth, development, and hard work as the true victories.
“He would put more focus on the kids that didn’t get as much attention, whether because they didn’t have parents that were able to help them like other kids, or they were lost in the shuffle due to their attention spans or skill. It was almost like it was his way of trying to give what he didn’t have growing up back in those times,” said Frank Pinedo.
Even as a recent retiree, Pinedo had ideas for how to help current youth, including using his military experience and working with at-risk youth who were interested in sports through a boot camp style training regime. Pinedo retired in 2018.
Brawley’s Gladiators and Brawley High girls wrestling Coach Ray Leon also saw firsthand the contributions Pinedo made to the community and to the Brawley wrestling program through volunteering his time to the Gladiators wrestling program.
“Robert was a family, traditional, and a community leader. He loved the sport of wrestling and wanted to help teach his sons, nephews, cousins, grandkids, and also the community by being a Gladiator's coach,” said Leon.
“He gave so much of himself to our community and will be tremendously missed.”
Pinedo worked with Wrestler Ivan Arevalo as a youth in Brawley’s Gladiators wrestling program. Arevalo won 2006 and 2007 CIF San Diego Divisional Champion/Team Champion (Brawley), and 2006 CIF Masters Champion. He wrote a tribute for Pinedo:
Growing up in Brawley, it's an eventuality for most that wrestling will be a part of your life at some point. For most, it starts with the Gladiator Program. One of my first coaches that introduced me to the sport I eventually grew to love was Coach Robert Pinedo. Coach Pinedo was firm but fair. His military background showed in his coaching as he stressed the importance of discipline and hard work.
Coach Pinedo was passionate about the sport and that fire motivated us to do better. The amount of care and dedication he showed us as kids helped motivate us to be there every day and try our best. Coach didn't have to be there. He had his own family and business but still took the time every day to spend countless hours of his free time volunteering to mold us children into not just better athletes, but better people — a sentiment that even as children, wasn't lost on us.
He was a staple in the community, whether it was as a member of the church, or as a youth wrestling coach. Coach Pinedo spent most of his free time inspiring and motivating all members of the community to be better — to make our small town a better place. A loss like this isn't easy to overcome, but the lessons he taught are still instilled in the lives that he's touched.