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Raymond H. Marmolejo

Raymond H. Marmolejo

Loving father, grandfather and great-grandfather

Raymond H. Marmolejo, a longtime West Covina resident, died on Saturday, January 17, 2015. He was 82.

He was born on October 20, 1932 in Van Nuys, the third child in a family of five boys and three girls. The family moved to Montebello before settling in East Los Angeles.

Young Raymond was a well-behaved and mechanically-minded boy, who enjoyed assembling intricate airplane models that his mother would hang from the living room ceiling. He met his wife of 62 years, Dolores “Lola” Vasquez, when he was 11 and she was 9. She and his sister Rosie were good friends and he would tease her about her clothes and glasses. Apparently, the adage that boys only tease the girls they like is true, because they began dating when she was 14 and he was 16.

Lola wanted to have a big family when she got older. Raymond was so caring with his four younger sisters, it was obvious he would make a great father. It didn’t hurt that he was handsome and always dressed sharply. Because she was so young, she kept their budding romance a secret for a year. She would tell her mother she was going to the movies with Rosie and instead go out with Raymond. Favorite dates included trips to the beach, to a museum or to Knott’s Berry Farm, which was free at the time. There, they would sit on a covered wagon and listen to live music.

With the Korean War raging, Mr. Marmolejo was inducted into the Army when he was 20. He married Dolores on January 3, 1953, nine days before he was due to report for duty and just a week after her 18th birthday. She wore a blue dress she borrowed from a friend for the ceremony, which was held at the house of the Justice of the Peace in Montebello. Being that they were just starting out, they didn’t have much money. They celebrated afterwards by sharing a chili dog.

Mr. Marmolejo was released with an honorable discharge that March after it was discovered he had a torn tendon. He returned home and began working for a company that manufactured bathroom fixtures. When that company went out of business, he took a position with O’Keefe and Merritt, a company that manufactured stoves. After a layoff in 1958, he got a job at Continental Can. He was hired on as a temporary employee during a flu epidemic, but they liked him so much they hired him permanently. By the time he retired from the company in 1981 at the age of 49, he was a Class A machine maintainer.

Mrs. Marmolejo got her wish of having a large family. In December of 1953, she and Raymond welcomed the first of eight children, a daughter named Margaret. The family grew quickly with the addition of five boys and two more girls. Mr. Marmolejo was a patient father and a big help around the house. When he was found doing dishes, he would joke that he had been caught doing “women’s work.” Still, he never hesitated to clean up or cook. An intuitive mechanic who always said, “Anything can be fixed,” he also kept the household appliances in ship-shape order. For the Marmolejos, family came first and that included longtime friends who became like family. Company was always welcome, and few people left without a hot meal and a cup of coffee. 

After his retirement, Mr. Marmolejo supplemented his pension by fixing cars. He could fix any problem with any model. “He loved cars,” Mrs. Marmolejo said. “It was more of an instinct. He always knew what to do.” He repaired an endless array of friends’ and family members’ cars and kept his own automobiles in perfect condition.

A week before he died, he fixed the water-pump on his blue three-quarter ton Spirit of ’76 Bicentennial GMC truck. He doted on his grandchildren and, later, on his great-grandchildren, and taught his grandson Brian how to fix cars. His garage was his headquarters, housing every tool imaginable, hung neatly from pegboards.

When he wasn’t tinkering with cars, he enjoyed repairing and painting garden statuary, watching the Military and History channels and playing Dr. Mario on Nintendo, a game he proudly beat. He made a mean salsa, often using his own homegrown tomatoes, and relished acquiring shoes and flashlights, insisting you could never have too many of either item.

Mr. Marmolejo had a gift for contentment. He always spoke with satisfaction of the career he had forged at Continental Can and always felt he had lucked out by winning Dolores’ heart. He will be deeply missed by his family.

He was predeceased by his sons, David, Vincent and Raymond Jr. He is survived by his wife, Dolores; by his children, Margaret, Casey, Danny, Rose, Elizabeth and Martin; by his sisters, Rosie, Virginia, Josie and Lindy; and by his grandchildren, Jenifer, Brian, Philip, Emily, Heather, Jennifer Lynn, Brittany, Dakota, Natasha, Milena and Loran. He also leaves six great-grandchildren and countless nieces, nephews and friends.

A viewing will be held on Sunday, January 25 at 5 p.m. followed by a Rosary at 7 p.m. at the Hillside Chapel at Rose Hills Memorial Park, 3888 Workman Mill Road in Whittier. Funeral services for Mr. Marmolejo will be held on Monday, January 26 at 11 a.m., also in Rose Hills’ Hillside Chapel.

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