Dr. Santos C. Vega, Ph.D., OPL.
September 6, 1931-January 02, 2021
Dr. Santos C. Vega, age 89, passed away on Saturday, January 2, 2021 at home surrounded by his children and grandchildren. He was born in Miami, Arizona on September 6, 1931. Santos married Edilia Garnica in 1956 and they had nine children. Santos was a devout Catholic, devoted husband, and a loving father, grandfather, and great grandfather.
Santos is survived by his nine children: Thomas Vega, Anthony (Sharon)Vega, Carlos Vega, Frank (Debbie) Vega, Vivian (Lorenzo) Rivera, Damien Vega, Eugene (Lupita) Vega, Monica (Joseph Jajack) Minjarez, Vikki (Roberto) Cervantes; 23 grandchildren; 24 greatgrandchildren; and second wife, Josephine R. Vega. Santos was preceded in death by his wife, Edilia G. Vega; parents, Fortunato and Antonia C. Vega; brothers, Samuel and Joe Gutierrez; and sisters, Lorena Reade and Catalina Valenzuela.
Santos was a life-long learner and earned several academic achievements. He graduated from Miami High School, 1950 and was on the football, basketball, softball, and track teams. He honorably served in the U.S. Air Force, 1950-54 and was a Veteran of the Korean Conflict. He earned a B.A. Ed., 1958 and a M. Ed., 1959 from the University of Arizona; Bachelor of Law, 1967, from Blackstone School of Law; Ph.D., 1975, in Education from Arizona State University; and a M.A in Theology, 2004, from San Francisco University.
Santos was a loyal servant of God. He was a dedicated member of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, and a lay Dominican of the Life-Professed Order of Preachers Laity (OPL), St. Mary Magdalene Chapter, Tempe, Arizona. He directed the Hispanic Ministry Program at St. Thomas Theological Seminary, Denver, Colorado; Director of the Tercer Encuentro Process in Ecclesial Region XIII; was the Director of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, Denver, Colorado; and was the Executive Director of Braun Sacred Heart Center.
Santos was a passionate educator. His career in education began at the Florence Elementary and Junior High Schools, Florence, Arizona. He promoted education to all ages; he supported the Florence Head Start program; taught General Education Development (GED) courses and conducted the GED test throughout AZ, including the Gila River Reservation, Sacaton, AZ. Santos taught courses and was involved in programs at Central Arizona College, Phoenix College, University of Arizona, and Arizona State University. Among many subjects, he enjoyed teaching English, Mexican American History, and United States citizenship courses. He ended his career at Arizona State University where he served as a Director for the Community Documentation Program (CDP) and Community Art and Research Organization (CARO) in the Hispanic Research Center, and was a Professor Emeritus.
Santos was an ambassador for his community. He received the President’s Volunteer Service Award from United States President, Barrack Obama. This national recognition was due to his years of service including but not limited to: Vice Mayor of Florence, Arizona, President of Arizona Association of Chicanos for Higher Education, Board member of Aurora Public School District, committed member of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), and his participation on numerous Boards and Committees in both Colorado and Arizona. Serving all of God’s people was important to him as demonstrated by his teaching at the Arizona State Prison and volunteering as a firefighter.
Santos was naturally gifted at writing and could always be found with pen and notebook. An impressive list of publications belongs to him, beginning with an endearing letter written to the U.S. Secretary of Defense when he was just 18 years old. In his letter, he shared his desire to pilot a rocket to the moon to which the Research and Development Board replied, “Somewhat ahead of your time with respect of such an activity”. Of all his writings, a family favorite is his novel, The Worm in My Tomato.
Santos will be fondly remembered and greatly missed by his children and family. There are many warm memories of celebrating birthdays, holidays, holy sacraments, Mass, having interesting conversations in our family book club regarding the history of our family and religion, playing card games, fishing, horseback riding excursions, riding his horse with the Charros de Casa Grande in the de Anza expedition reenactment, and many other family activities. Santos stressed the importance of faith, prayer, love, and mercy.
Through unending years I've tried
To free myself from fear to die;
To free my heart from pride;
Daily contending with the lie.
Each day had its mission;
In prayer was blessed the goal-
Planned for my sins remission;
Salvation of my soul.
Beyond my fear and pride, my faith perceived
Through those years unending still-
My captive soul for certain not deceived.
When my life becoming dust against my will;
In that love each day contains-
Upon my death, eternal life remains.
Santos C. Vega
A visitation will be held on Monday, January 19, 2021 from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm, with a Recitation of the Holy Rosary at 6:00 PM, at Richardson Funeral Home, 2621 South Rural Road, Tempe, Arizona. Mass of Christian Burial will follow on Tuesday, January 19, 2021 at 10:00 AM at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church, 2121 South Rural Road, Tempe, Arizona. Interment, with full military honors, will follow on Wednesday, January 20, 2021 at 11:00 AM at Holy Hope Cemetery, Tucson, Arizona. In Lieu of flowers, the family prefers donations to his church, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, 2121 S. Rural Rd. Tempe, AZ 85282. The funeral mass will also be live-streamed at: https://olmctempe.com/specialevents for those that cannot attend or don't feel comfortable attending.
Richardson Funeral Home, Tempe, Arizona is compassionately serving the Vega family.