The world lost a very loving and devoted son, husband, father, grandfather and friend with the recent passing of Jesus "Jesse" Luna, 62, who left us on May 14 after a long and courageous battle with cancer. Jesse was surrounded by loved ones at the time of his passing.
A 1974 graduate of Tehachapi High School, Jesse believed in the motto "Once a Warrior, always a Warrior" and he was a lifelong supporter of Tehachapi kids and his hometown. With his sunny disposition and his friendly, non-judgmental attitude toward others, Jesse was universally well-liked and highly regarded, by everyone from little children to the elderly.
Jesse began life on Feb. 9, 1956 in the town of Santa Barbara in Chihuahua, Mexico. His parents were Jesus and Soledad Luna. They lived in a tidy but small house with a dirt floor that was swept daily. The family moved to the United States when Jesse was a young boy, and he was always proud of his initial green card, which he always kept, that listed May 31, 1961 as the day that Jesse was "Granted Entry" into the U.S.
Jesse's father worked at the Monolith Portland Cement Company and the Luna children attended Tehachapi schools. In addition to Jesse, there was Roberta, Josephina and Ramon. Spanish was Jesse's first language and he never forgot it — his mother never spoke English with any fluency — but growing up in Tehachapi, Jesse lost any trace of an accent and many people didn't even realize that he was such a confident Spanish speaker. The neighbors, though, would hear Jess walking down the alley happily singing in Spanish.
With his outgoing personality, Jesse was a popular student at Tehachapi High, and he freely mingled with the different groups that teenagers form in school. He played on the Warrior football team, and was a wide receiver when future famed Warrior coach Steve Denman played quarterback for THS. Jesse loved girls and automobiles and had one of the few Pontiac Trans Am cars in Tehachapi.
Jesse was always a hard worker with a good work ethic, and he earned his way up from busboy to server at the Stallion Springs Lodge, back when that was the most elegant place to eat in the Tehachapi Mountains.
Jesse later worked at a Straw Hat Pizza in Bakersfield, and met his co-worker Brian Beith, who introduced Jesse to his twin sister, Brenda. The two of them got along great and were married on Dec. 1, 1979, and remained happily married for close to 40 years. Their three children are Jason, Desiree and Danielle.
Jesse worked in the meat department at SaveMart, and he greeted his customers warmly and was a popular employee. He often used his language skills to help Spanish-speaking shoppers.
Jesse later went to work managing that old Tehachapi landmark, the Mountain Crossing Restaurant. After that he became a correctional officer at CCI, from which he received a medical retirement in 2006 and began his fierce battle with cancer.
Jess loved supporting his kids in anything they did, like playing baseball or soccer, and was always there for them. None of Jesse's loved ones ever had to question his love for them — like the James Taylor song says, he "Showered the people he loved with love."
Jesse was a true blue Dodgers fan for life, and he also enjoyed going to concerts and fun trips to Las Vegas. His two 11-year-old granddaughters, Brooklyn and Josilyn, were the light of his life and took such good care of him in his illness.
A light has gone out with the loss of Jesse Luna, but he has left behind a legacy of positivity, and many sweet memories of life spent with this kind, funny and affectionate man.
Jesse is survived by his wife, Brenda; son Jason and his daughter Josilyn and son Anthony; daughter Desiree and partner Brian and their daughter Brooklyn, all of Bakersfield; and daughter Danielle and her partner Robbie of Tehachapi. Also by his father Jesus of Tehachapi (his mother Soledad passed away last year).
Other survivors include his sister Roberta Stanwick and her husband Bob of Stallion Springs; sister Josephine Vaca and her husband Rueben of Los Angeles; and brother Ramon and his wife Jeanette of Alaska. Also his sister-in-law Debbie Guill and husband Robert; brother-in-law Brian Beith and his wife Denise; brother-in-law Scott Beith; and nieces and nephews Brittany, Breanna, Mike, Carli, Denali, Alicia, Kris, Eric, Lizette, Kimberly and Stephanie.
Other dear family and friends include Steve and Cindy Austin and their daughter Jessica; Javier and Mary Herrera; and among his many friends are Jesse Esparza, Richard Ursin, Carlos Sanchez and Edmund Esparza.
Services to honor Jesse will be held on Friday, May 25 at 10:30 a.m. at St. Malachy's Catholic Church on Mill Street, followed by a graveside service and then a reception at St. Malachy's McMullan Hall. Wood Family Funeral Service is handling arrangements.