It is with extremely heavy hearts to announce that "the one and only" Manuel Serros passed away into the hands of the Lord on Sunday, February 24, 2013, at his residence in his beloved city of Oxnard. He was 67. Manuel was born on May 4, 1945, at the old Lions Inn Hospital, which was located on the corner of 5th and "H" streets in Oxnard. Manuel attended the local schools Juanita Elementary (now Cesar Chavez Elementary), Ramona Elementary, Woodrow Wilson Junior High and Oxnard High School. At an early age, Manuel displayed an athletic prowess that separated him from his peers. He was a two-year member of the Wilson Wildcat boys basketball "A" team and received all-tournament honors at the 1960 Oxnard Rotary junior high basketball tournament. At Oxnard High School, Manuel continued his athletic endeavors and ran track, and was a two-year varsity letterman in basketball and football, performing as a shooting guard in basketball and a running back in football. Manuel proudly and defiantly left Oxnard High in 1964, two weeks shy of graduation. Shortly thereafter, he began a nearly fifty-year career as a Longshoreman and Clerk at the docks of Port Hueneme and San Pedro. Manuel was a proud and longtime member of ILWU - International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Local 46. Manuel loved his career and always stated, even as a younger man, that he would never retire and work until his last day. Manuel fulfilled his desire and worked an eight-hour shift one day prior to his passing.
Manuel had many passions and interests throughout his life but perhaps his biggest one was his love for cars. Family members recall Manuel watching cartoons as a child and being fascinated with cars even then. Manuel owned many cars throughout his life ranging from classics, like his 1934 Ford Coupe to hot rods, including a 1951 Mercury coupe. His proudest car purchase of all, however, was a 1967 Lindale blue Corvette 427 big block with three two barrel carburetors that he purchased at the age of 22. Manuel often would tell the story about how, at the time, he was living with his girlfriend and was conflicted about whether to use the money he had saved on a down-payment for a home or the Corvette - the Corvette, of course, won the day. Manuel was also a very skilled mechanic and prided himself on being able to build a car "from the frame up." His quest for parts and his next big auto project took him to auto shows, auto shops and auto swap meets all over the state and in Baja California, Mexico.
Manuel was a gifted artist and craftsmen who enjoyed using his hands to create. In the 1980's, Manuel took classes to learn stained glass. In a short period of time, Manuel became a competent stained glass artist and finished several pieces, a few of which are still displayed at his residence and residences of family members. Recently, Manuel began working with wood to create hanging vegetation planters. Manuel would spend countless hours in his backyard with his saws blazing, creating functional planters with intricate constructions. Manuel had recently completed his third planter and would proudly show them off to visitors and explain the process and the detail involved. Manuel always credited his beloved grandfather, Pedro Zavala, with showing him how to do woodwork. Another story Manuel liked to tell is that he would often get scolded by his wood shop teachers at OHS because he was using advanced and professional techniques taught to him by his grandfather and ignoring class instruction. Manuel was also an avid collector of various types of tools. He would show the tools to visitors and explain their functions, and when the visitors inquired on what he was planning to use them for, Manuel would reply that he didn't have anything planned but he bought them "just to have."
Manuel also had interests in antiques, the sport of bodybuilding, film, men's fashion and fine dining. In his 20's, Manuel was an avid bodybuilder and had built up an impressive physique. He continued to read and learn about the sport and often gave advice to aspiring bodybuilders he encountered regarding training techniques. As a Longshoreman, Manuel's everyday apparel usually consisted of jeans and a t-shirt, however, if an event called for it, Manuel would show up in a custom, double breasted suit with all of the accessories. Manuel also enjoyed dining out and, while he was loyal to his favorite eateries in Downtown Oxnard, he was constantly on a quest to find the next great meal at new, local restaurants. Once he did find it, he would tell his friends and family about it and offer to take them there so they could enjoy it themselves. Manuel had a very distinct and refined taste and when something especially pleased him, be it cuisine, a car or a work of art, he would describe it as being fantastic, pronouncing it FANTAAASTIC!
It is without question that everyone who knew Manuel would agree that he was unlike anyone that they had ever met before. The expectations of society and peers meant little to Manuel and he truly lived life on his terms and absolutely did it his way. We will miss his humor, which ranged from mild to mature, and his unique ability to tell his stories and jokes, which included gesturing wildly with his hands and raising or lowering his voice for emphasis. He was always known as a prankster on the docks and relished that role. We will also miss his generosity and friendliness, which was evident where ever he went, as he was either making a new friend or reconnecting with an old one.
Manuel is survived by his son and pride and joy, Peter Serros (Marina); sons, Anthony Bravo and Steven Bravo; brothers, Jerry Serros (wife Darlene), George Serros, Richard Serros (wife Nancy); sisters, Connie Borrego and Diane Estes (husband Les); and many nephews, nieces, cousins, friends and co-workers. Manuel was preceded in death by his parents, Jerry and Sally Serros; paternal granparents, Cruz and Maria Serros; maternal grandparents, Pedro and Maria Zavala; brother, Dr. Robert Serros; nephew, Jerry Serros III; and brother in law, Hector Borrego.
Services for Manuel will be held on Thursday, February 28, at Funeraria Del Angel Conrad Carroll, 401 W. Channel Islands Blvd., Oxnard. Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. with an open casket viewing between 6 to 7 p.m. A non-denominational service will begin at 7 p.m. On Friday, March 1, there will be a visitation at 9 to 10 a.m. at Funeria Del Angel Conrad Carroll before proceeding to Santa Clara Cemetery, 2370 N. "H" Street, Oxnard, for internment at 10:45 a.m.
In closing, we would like to share that Manuel had so much love and pride for his hometown of Oxnard. Whenever Manuel would go on a trip or vacation, the first thing he would do upon his return is go to Plaza Park, park his vehicle and walk through Downtown and visit merchants and restauranteurs he knew. He claimed that the brief time away made him appreciate his hometown that much more. It is also worth noting that Manuel had a very special connection to "H" Street in Oxnard. As mentioned above, he was born at a hospital on "H" Street and attended the old Oxnard High School, which was bordered by "H" Street. His residence for decades was on "H" Street, so it is only fitting that Manuel's body be interred at Santa Clara Cemetery, located, of course, on "H" Street; Manuel wouldn't have wanted it any other way!