MACE 2006 Man of the Year
|On Saturday, May 6, 2006, Aurelio Zuñiga was presented with the Man of the Year award from the Mexican American Committee on Education (MACE). The award was given at MACE’s 36th Annual Cinco de Mayo Scholarship Banquet due to Aurelio’s strong and on-going committment to education.|
Aurelio Lerma Zuñiga was born in Hollister California in 1942 to parents Vicente and Josefina Zuñiga. His family includes brothers Vince Zuñiga and sister Sally Zuñiga Quinonez and his late brothers Ruben and Gilbert Zuñiga. Aurelio knows of family struggles coming from a family who worked the fields of San Benito county picking tomatoes, prunes and other vegetables to receive a days pay to contribute to the family income. Years later Aurelio was to become the owner of the oldest established Mexican restaurant in San Benito County, Progresso Tamale Parlor. We can say that the same fields and grounds that Aurelio once worked on, later became the area where the best Mexican food was produced by his parents and family.
He attended Fremont School, graduated from Hollister High School and later on from San Benito Junior College now known as Gavilan College. He served his country in the National Guard and was stationed at Fort Ord and then transferred to Fort Knox, Kentucky.
In 1964, Aurelio married his school sweetheart, Patsy Martinez, in the Mission of San Juan Bautista. They became the parents of three beautiful daughters. The couple moved to Mountain View where he became employed at Fairfield Semiconductor. He later went onto work for Kaiser Aerospace in Palo Alto.
In 1974, due to a family illness, Aurelio was given the opportunity to operate the family restaurant business - Progresso Tamale Parlor, so he and Patsy made the decision to move back to Hollister and take over the family business. Aurelio became the third Zuñiga generation owner with the assistance of his mother Sra. Josefina Zuñiga as the main cook.
Aurelio being a parent involved in his children’s education it was apparent that he would be of service to this community by serving on the San Benito High School Board for 9 years including serving as President of the board. Due to his expertise as a school board trustee and as an entrusted community business leader, he is often asked to serve on committees pertaining to children’s education. He has also served on the City Advisory Board for the General Plan.
Aurelio today is both a role model parent, and grandparent as he continues to serve his community in assuring quality education for all children. It can be better understood by seeing the example he has set for many as his own children who are now the engineers, and teachers. His daughter Theresa is a graduate of Stanford University and today an engineer, daughters Rachel and Elaine are both teachers with the Hollister School District and his wife Patsy of 41 years is one of the best known artists in the county.
Also see the article in the Pinnacle News.
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