Joe Diaz - March 30, 1913 - October 4, 2008 Joe Diaz, long-time Hermosa Beach resident, passed away on Saturday, October 4, 2008 at the age of 95. Joe was born and raised in Los Angeles; lived in Gardena with his bride, Marie, until 1953 when he, his wife and two children, Rosalie and Martha settled in Hermosa Beach. His humble beginnings in Watts, California were the start of the life of a man with a tremendous entrepreneurial spirit. As a teenager he opened his first business by renting wall space at a local gas station to start his own car wash. The owner was so impressed with him that he eventually had him manage not one but two of his stations in Watts and Wilmington. Joe then served his Country in the Navy during World War II on the SS Hogatt Bay. During this time, his ship was hit by a torpedo, and his good friend and shipmate lost his life. This loss set in motion his love of life and gift of compassion to his fellow man. During his deployment, his daughter Rosalie was born; and, he did not get to meet her until she was 6 months old. Her sister Martha followed three years later. After the war, Joe began a career with Hughes Aircraft in Culver City, CA as a machinist; one task of which was to make the components that went into the Apollo spacecraft for the space program. After retiring from Hughes in 1978, he became more active in the community that he loved so much, Hermosa Beach. His contributions to the community were many. He was a member of the Hermosa Beach Sister City Association, of which he was the brainchild behind the Student Exchange Program with Hermosa's Sister City, Loreto, Baja California. The idea for the program was two fold: while on a trip to the interior of Mexico with his wife and granddaughter, Monica in 1973, he listened to his granddaughter learn how to speak Spanish while reading from the back of the AAA handbook, while at the same time play with children without speaking the language. It was then that he had an idea for a cultural student exchange between the two cities; an idea that he brought back to the committee. With an offer letter from the Sister City Association, he rode his motorcycle along with a larger group, and made an introduction and an offer from Hermosa Beach to the Mayor, Felix Ojeda. It was there the idea for a cultural student exchange was borne; a program that over 35 years has benefited so many children to have a better understanding of culture and friendship across the land. His children Rosalie and Martha, along with his grandchildren Monica and John, and great-grandchildren Leina, Sabrina and John-John have all attended and graduated from the Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach school system. Along with Sister City, Joe was Hermosa Beach's "Man of the Year", a member of the Toastmasters; and, one of the most important organizations, the Hermosa Beach Kiwanis Club, of which he was a Past President. His dedication to the community and the organizations that he was involved in inspired his wife and family to be active in the community, as well. His daughter Rosalie and her husband Bruce Schjeldahl are active members of Hope Chapel; his daughter Martha is an animal activist and advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves, participating in many of the beach community's charitable organizations; his granddaughter Monica is Assistant General Manager for Manhattan Village Shopping Center; his grandson John is working on large telecommunication installation projects throughout the Country. Without his wife Marie, there is no Joe Diaz. Partners throughout their lives, she is an active member of the Women's Club and Assistant General Manager for the Hermosa Beach Farmer's Market. He was a man of great vision who was admired and respected by all who knew him, both in this country and in Mexico. Joe passed peacefully on October 4th, with his family by his side, one day after celebrating his 66th wedding anniversary with his wonderful wife Marie; speaking directly about her, their lives and their love as he drifted into the arms of the Lord. His family and friends celebrate the life of this extraordinary man, as well as mourning the loss to everyone who knew him, and the community the benefited greatly from him, and his contributions to it and society as whole. Funeral arrangements are as follows: Viewing will be from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Monday, October 13th at Rice Mortuary, 5310 Torrance Blvd., Torrance California; Memorial Service at 11:00 a.m., October 14th at Rice Mortuary; Cryptside service immediately following at Pacific Crest Cemetery, 182nd Street and Inglewood Boulevard in Redondo Beach. Reception will follow at the Hermosa Beach Kiwanis Club, located at 2515 Valley Drive, Hermosa Beach. He is survived by his wife Marie, daughter Rosalie Schjeldahl and her husband Bruce Schjeldahl; daughter Martha Diaz; granddaughter Monica Frey and her husband Rick Frey; grandson John Nelson and three great-grandchildren, Leina, Sabrina and John Nelson; brothers Alfred, Theodore, Robert Diaz and sister Rose Gradillas. In lieu of flowers, the family request that donations be made to the Our Lady of Guadalupe Building Fund - 320 Massey Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.

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  1. Dear Diaz Family, Our thoughts are with you all during this sad and difficult time. Joe certainly leaves a great legacy and will be fondly remembered. Please accept our heart felt condolances. Carla & Steve

  2. Dear Family, My Uncle was great in his city where he lived but, in our family he always there. I don’t remember one time that he wasn’t there. He was there for my high school graduation,He was there for my wedding, He was there; showed up for birthday parties, graduations, weddings, anniversaries,and I always looked for that strong and loving uncle who was always there for us in times of need and times of family functions. He is leaving a big legacy but,I know my uncle gave his heart to the Lord recently so I will see him again at those pearly gates waiting for me with our Lord Jesus Christ. I love you uncle Joe but this is not good bye but I can’t wait to see you again in Heaven. My love and prayers go to my aunt Marie and cousins and family. Love Roberta Diaz Alkatanani

  3. Joe Diaz was a special person in my life and I will always have a place in my heart for him. Growing up I looked at him as my father. I wanted to spend as much time as possible at the Diaz’s home. He called me his blonde adopted daughter. I remember the beach parties at Playa del Rey with all of the relatives. Going to Long Beach with their boat and walking around the Long Beach Pike when Rosalie and I weren’t supposed to, Joe would be mad at us and the reason for that was because he worried about us. I have fond memories of having dinner with the family (I wanted to eat there as often as I could). Rosalie would put her food in a napkin and give it to me under the table (Marie is the best cook). I remember all of the parties at their house with all of the relatives and friends. When my parents moved to La Mirada, CA, I didn’t want to move with them, I wanted to live with Joe and Marie, but I had to move. The move was very hard for me. To this day (50 years later), I make my trips down to Hermosa Beach and stop by the Diaz’s house and I will continue to do that as long as I am able.

  4. I didn’t know Mr. Diaz, but as if I did I heard so much of his strength and kind deeds and much more. My heart and prayers are with all of you. I know he will truly be missed.

  5. Diaz Family, You were blessed with one of the kindest, most thoughtful, and most socially creative people we have ever known. Not only is he a great loss to your family, but also to the community. We will miss the friendship and great times we shared with both Joe and Marie. Our prayers, love and support are with you during this sad time.

  6. Dear Monica & Family, I want to express my love to you all in your time of sorrow. Monica has been a true friend to me since we met in 1979ish at Mira Costa High School. Monica was raised by Joe and Maria Diaz her grandparents who are dear to her heart. I would visit her at their home and I experienced a truly warm and affectionate family who always had the doors open to visitors. I am so happy that Monica had the chance to live with a father figure like Joe and that he and his wife helped raise a very loving and thoughtful and wonderful grandchild, Monica Frey. I am sure that John also felt the love from such a nice family too. Whenever I would bump into the Diaz’s around town, they always recognized me no matter how many years have passed. Very special people! Surely we love them and will greatly miss Grandpa Joe!

  7. We will always remember and miss dear, sweet Uncle Joe. We’re thinking of you all today. Love, Zak, Vicki and Chris

  8. My love and prayers are with you all. I’m so gald I had the privledge of meeting Joe in my lifetime. May he rest in peace.

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