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Helen Chávez (1928 - 2016)

Getty Images / Hulton Archive / Cathy Murphy

Helen Chávez (1928 - 2016)

 Helen Chávez, the widow of longtime United Farm Workers of America leader Cesar Chávez, died June 6 of natural causes in Bakersfield, California, according to multiple news reports. She was 88.

The death also was announced in a news release from the union.

The release said Helen Chávez sustained her husband during his 31-year tenure as the union’s leader.

“Helen, a humble girl from Delano, used her fierce determination to help change the lives of thousands of farm workers and millions of others who were inspired by La Causa,” the union said in the release.


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Helen Fabela was born Jan. 21, 1928, in Brawley, California, and later moved to Delano, California, with her family. According to the union, she met Cesar Chávez in the mid-1940s. They married in 1948 following his years of service in the U.S. Navy.

“Cesar and Helen life a comfortable middle-class life in East Los Angeles in 1962, and moved back to Delano to begin organizing farm workers,” the UFW’s release said. “Her consistent humility, selflessness, quiet heroism, and fiery perseverance were at the heart of the movement that she helped build.”

Her husband preceded her in death in 1993. She is survived by seven children, 31 grandchildren, and 16 great-grandchildren.

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