Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Steve Bernal

I don't remember where I first met Steve. In all likelihood it was at some event that was focused on Chicano or Latino culture. I think that was where many of us first met him.

He had a knack for knowing what events were going on, knowing who the audience was going to be, and knowing how to dress and connect with the folks there.

His smile almost always had a feeling of "you're going to like what I have to say and if we work together on this - and the outcome will be good". That's a lot to put into a smile but that's the kind of guy he was.

The first year Dolores Huerta rode in the Latino Heritage parade he met her at our house. They knew each other - she called him "Little Stevie Wonder" - and I'm sure he met her with that smile. And because of the smile she came ready to have a good time and to spend time with gente, with people of the community.

He was always as willing to connect with those of some celebrity as he was willing to push up his sleeves put on a bandanna and do the grunt work. He didn't need to be recognized for any of this. He did this despite injuries that plagued his body. The heart was willing and so the work got done. If he had some money and you had none he shared; if he was the one that was short of cash, he accepted help with grace. And always there was that very special smile.

The last time I saw Steve was at the Levitt Pavilion. He was dancing up a storm - hat on head, eyes closed, happy smile.

Steve left us this week. Some knew him as a plumber, some as an activist, and some as an actor. All knew him as a man who cared about others, loved deeply, and who made our lives fuller for having spent time with him. He will be missed and remembered by many; hopefully mostly with a smile on our faces.

This image is by the artist Margaret Garcia.


  1. Thanks to you and Margaret for this wonderful post. I am so glad you are writing!!

  2. Steve was a special guy. Thanks for taking a peek at the blog. I like that I can write in a less formal way.

  3. Oh, and I'd be remiss if I didn't remark how incredibly well Margaret shares a significant bit of his personality. She does amazing work.

  4. Thank you I miss my Dad So much
    He was on a book cover (Chicano. Moratorium )from his younger. Days. .
    I think. It was called. This is my blood. ...
    Taught at East L.A college
    If anyone sees. This. Book please call me Carla. BERNAL HERNANDEZ 626 814-1949 MY DAD AND 2 OTHER MEN CARRIED. A MAN THAT THE POLICE JUST SHOT!!