Hall of Gratitude
Stephen L. Manzanares
Submitted by Donna Otero
Stephen showed me the power of survival
Stephen, our dad, showed us how to survive by teaching us how to work hard, live simple, be honest and true to your word. He taught us the importance of a good education not only through book learning but also through work experience. He made sure we could do anything from reading a map, changing a flat tire, mixing a batch of concrete or neutering a goat.
Stephen is 91 years old now and still lives where he was born in 1928 to Joe and Louise (Perez) Manzanares, both founding families of Pomona. At the age of about 10, Stephen worked as a newspaper boy for the Los Angeles Times. He also worked cleaning the Stanton’s Chicken Coops during the war to help the family. As a young boy he worked in the family business “Joe Manzanares and Sons Cement Business” pouring many foundations and doing rock work throughout the Pomona Valley. Stephen taught his sons and grandsons how to do concrete work using the same cement mixer that was purchased for the family business in 1919. At 17, Stephen entered the U.S. Air Force and soon joined the 82nd Airborne 504 Infantry Division. Upon discharge, Stephen returned to Pomona and married Dora Martinez from Chino. They raised five children. Stephen went to work for the Los Angeles County Fair where he became the first person of color in a supervisory position. He became the grounds foreman where for over 40 years he fought for positions for local residents and taught many of them the construction skills he learned throughout his lifetime from his father and grandfathers.
Upon his retirement, Stephen was active in the AMVETS, Hispanic Airborne and California Honor Guard which inspired commitment, loyalty and dedication through ceremonies to honor veterans. Stephen has displayed an exemplary form of survival no matter what obstacles he’s encountered throughout his lifetime. Stephen’s will to survive is amazing as is the inspiration and survival skills that he has bestowed upon so many. Stephen has been a valuable gift to the community for many years.