Emilio C. Chavez

April 9, 1925 ~ October 14, 2022 (age 97) 97 Years Old


Emilio C. Chavez, a long-time resident of Fountain Valley, California, quietly passed away and entered the glory of heaven on October 14, 2022. Emilio was born in the town of Las Vegas, New Mexico on April 9, 1925, to Emilio and Elisa Chavez. He was the third of eight children and the younger of two sons. The family moved to Santa Fe when he was five where he lived until leaving home at the age of nineteen. A child of the Great Depression, Emilio never forgot the hardships his parents faced to provide for their young family. His father struggled daily to find work and he remembers being hungry and standing in breadlines with his mother. These were lean years and the family moved often as income was unstable and rents were raised beyond their means. As very young boys, Emilio and his brother searched for jobs to help the family. They would buy staples across town and bring them home where they set up a makeshift store and would resell items for a few cents profit. They had paper routes and were forced to pay out of their own pockets when unable to collect from subscribers. Santa Fe was home to the state capitol and during his high school years, Emilio was tapped to work as a congressional page. He turned eighteen in the later years of WWII and intended to follow his brother into military service, however for reasons never fully explained, he was turned away. To support the war effort, he joined his father in San Francisco to work in a naval shipyard.  After the war, they relocated to Long Beach where his mother and sisters joined them. With regular work and the help of their adult children, Emilio’s parents were able purchase their first home, a dream come true for his mother. Sadly, only a year later, tragedy struck when she passed away unexpectedly in 1949. There were still young daughters at home to care for and his brother was away attending college under the G.I. Bill, so at 24, Emilio remained at home, and continued working at the shipyard to help his father support and raise his younger sisters. He held a union job as a journeyman sheet metal worker for the remainder of his working years.    

Emilio and his siblings joined the young adult club at St. Lucy’s Catholic Church. He made many friends, some of whom became future brothers-in-law and one who became his closest and lifelong friend, Charlie Keane. In 1953, Charlie introduced Emilio to his cousin, Shirley Coyle, a young nurse from Iowa who had moved to Long Beach along with three friends, also nurses. After a five-year courtship, Emilio and Shirley married and soon started their own family with a firstborn daughter. Over the next eight years, they added five more children, two sons, a second daughter, and two more sons. In 1964, Emilio and Shirley, whom she affectionately called "Amie", moved from Long Beach to the newly developed city of Fountain Valley with the purchase of their first and lasting home. Emilio worked hard to support his growing family and spent many years working overtime and weekends.

Emilio and Shirley became active in the local Catholic church.  He joined the St. Vincent de Paul Society which provided food and other needs to the poor. Because he spoke Spanish, he was often called upon to provide translation services and was in high demand as the population of the area grew. Over the course of twelve years, Shirley and Emilio were re-zoned into newly established parishes several times before finding their home with their beloved St. Vincent de Paul parish. They were one of the founding families and active members of the church community for over 40 years. Emilio contributed his leadership in the St. Vincent de Paul Society serving as co-president with Charlie Keane, and later as President Emeritus. He continued making house calls until he gave up driving at the age of 91.

Emilio was the quiet, more reserved half to his outgoing and vivacious wife, but he had a great sense of humor and a funny/quicky side. He could often be heard humming a tune while puttering around the house and he loved to tease friends, children and even pets. This was always done with affection and in good fun. He coined silly, endearing nicknames for his kids and many nieces and nephews. He loved watching sports, particularly football, basketball, and tennis and was always up to speed on wins/losses and other stats. He enjoyed camping and road trips, family picnics and gatherings, and spending time with close friends, especially over a cold beer or a nice glass of wine. In his retirement years, he joined with Shirley in becoming more socially active with the church community; attending daily mass, hanging around for coffee in the church hall, and participating in with an intimate group of friends who met monthly to pray the rosary and share a spaghetti dinner.

Emilio is survived by his six children, Tina Sutera, John Chavez (Gorete), Joseph Chavez, Cathy Bishop (Troy), Jerome Chavez, and Charlie Chavez (Andi). He is also survived by his sisters Mela Larwood and Mary Ann Sanchez, and his brother-in law, Jim Pooler. He leaves behind five grandchildren and two great-grandsons. Emilio was pre-deceased by his parents, his brother Frank, sisters Lena, Consuelo, Dolores, and Theresa, brothers-in-law Peter Hamill, George Adelo, Tony Graham, Roque Sanchez, and Robert Larwood, and his son-in-law, Patrick Sutera. Emilio will be remembered for his love of family, his loyalty to friends, his dedication to his faith, his service to the underprivileged and hungry, his kindness and sense of humor, and his active engagement with the news, sports, and issues of our time, until the very end of his long, and very full life.  

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Emilio C. Chavez, please visit our floral store.


October 23, 2022

3:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Heritage - Dilday (Huntington Beach)

October 23, 2022

4:00 PM to 5:00 PM
Heritage - Dilday (Huntington Beach)

Funeral Mass
October 29, 2022

11:00 AM to 12:00 PM
St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church (Huntington Beach, California)

October 29, 2022

12:30 PM to 3:00 PM
Fountain Valley Recreation Center
16400 Brookhurst St.
Fountain Valley, CA 92708


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