Friday, September 14, 2012

Elysian Valley: In Memoriam, Rey Dominguez, Community Activist, 1944-2012

Elysian Valley, 1924, from Taylor Yard.  A few years ago, Rey Dominguez sent me this photo of his neighborhood he found online.  Rey had a love of neighborhood history.  (Click on photo to enlarge.) 
Reymundo Dominguez, 1944 – 2012
Longtime Elysian Valley Community Activist
Reymundo (Rey) Dominguez, a longtime community activist who lived in Elysian Valley for 60 years, passed away Sunday morning, September 9, 2012.   He was 68.
Rey suffered with a chronic respiratory illness for the past few years and was in intensive care at Keck Hospital, where he died, according to his wife Cecilia (Ceci).
Rey was a senior design engineer for major aerospace companies including Boeing and Northrop for several decades. He was proud of his work as an engineer and worked on major projects such as the space shuttle, stealth bomber, space station and the Apache Military Helicopter.  He retired this year.
Rey was born in Los Angeles at Lying-In Hospital in Echo Park in 1944 and grew up in Chavez Ravine. Rey’s family was among Los Desterrados (“The Uprooted”).  His family home and neighborhood were bulldozed to make way for Dodger Stadium in the 1950’s. 
When he was 8 years old, Rey and has family relocated to Elysian Valley in 1961, where five generations of his family reside.  He graduated from Marshall High School and Los Angeles City College. He served in the Army June 29, 1965 through June 13, 1967 and was stationed in Germany during the Vietnam War. He received a good conduct, mark defense service and expert rifle medals.
Rey was a stalwart of the community,  but modest of his accomplishments.  He was always present, supporting  community projects and events, doing whatever needed to be done. He had a very big heart and was a very giving man who poured his soul into the projects in which he was involved. In turn, everyone loved and respected him.  Rey never ceased to inspire those around him with his optimism and loving support.
Rey, with his beloved wife of 42 years Ceci, was a key contributor to the planning and formation of the first Elysian Valley Community Garden, a founding member of the Elysian Valley Neighborhood Council, called for street light improvements, and the development of Marsh Park and Marsh Skate Park in Elysian Valley.  He successfully fought the City’s plan to locate a sewer exhaust facility in Elysian Valley, a residential neighborhood of working families. Rey was also very active with Virginia Adams in a zoning battle with Mission labs, which was polluting the community and encroaching on residential properties adjacent to their facility. 
Rey had a long friendship with Father Richard Estrada.  Rey assisted Father Richard with the development and fundraising of Jovenes Inc., an organization helping young immigrants with housing and other social service needs. He also had a very special place in his heart for Mission San Conrado, where he attended mass with his family. He joined Father Richard and others with The Water Project in the desert, along the border, several times to leave water for immigrants who crossed the border to the U.S. looking for a better life.
Even as his health declined, Rey remained active, along with Ceci, in the battle over making Metrolink’s Central Maintenance Facility in Taylor Yard a better neighbor. The diesel rail yard has severe impacts on the health of residents in Elysian Valley and Cypress Park communities.
For the past three years Rey and Cecilia volunteered to decorate with hundreds of marigold flowers the annual Dia de los Muertos Commemoration at El Centro Del Pueblo. Rey will now be included on the community altar with much love and admiration for the life he led. Rey’s last project was to establish a veteran’s recognition in Elysian Valley.
Rey was a Boy Scout leader for four years when his son was a Boy Scout.  Just this June, he   taught a local Girl Scout troupe to be the honor guard for the opening day of the baseball season at the Elysian Valley Recreation Center.
Rey was also an avid backpacker and distance cyclist. He loved the Los Angeles River, which was a couple of blocks from his home. Ray rode his bike in the Los Angeles Marathon four times and the Rosarito Beach to Ensenada bike ride three times before chronic respiratory illness limited his fitness.
Rey is survived by his wife Ceci; his children Reymundo Jr. and Laura; his grandson Ricky; and his sister Rosemarie Cabrera and brother Jesse Dominguez. In lieu of flowers, donations are being requested be sent to Barlow Foundation, St. Jude Children’s Hospital or the American Lung Association
Services will be held Saturday, September 15th at 1:30 p.m. at St. Ann’s Church, 2310 Riverdale Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90031. A celebration will follow at 3:30 p.m. 4:30 - 6 p.m. at Barlow Respiratory Hospital (outdoors on the south side of the Library) 2000 Stadium Way, Los Angeles, CA 90026.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will honor Rey by adjourning in his memory on Tuesday September 18, 2012.