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Pete "Big Dog" Garcia

1944 - 2017 Obituary Condolences Gallery
Pete "Big Dog" Garcia Obituary
Garcia, Pete "Big Dog"
Pete passed away peacefully surrounded by his family on May 3, 2017 at the age of 72. He was born to parents Pedro Sanchez Garcia and Victoria Cano Garcia on Oct 6, 1944 in Phoenix, Arizona. Pete was raised by his mother Victoria in the Marcos de Niza housing projects in central Phoenix along with his brother Richard, and later his sister Annie Lee "Gidget" Morrow.

Pete attended Phoenix Union High School before volunteering for the US Army in 1962, serving in Germany. Upon his honorable discharge, he worked as a letter carrier for the US Postal Service while first attending Phoenix College, and then Arizona State University on the GI Bill. He earned a BA in Elementary Education from ASU in 1972.

After graduation Pete began working with the Job Corps, where he met his wife Sarah Souders. He left the Job Corps to start a service program for runaway youths with the City of Phoenix, before joining Chicanos Por La Causa (CPLC). In his first stint with the organization he was focused on economic development. During this period Pete & Sarah welcomed Daniel, Hilario, and Illana into their family. Pete spent his free time playing basketball and coaching Little League baseball, first for other neighborhood children, and eventually his own kids.

Pete took his family to Washington DC in 1980 to earn a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Southern California, in conjunction with the US Dept of Health & Human Services.

After receiving his masters Pete returned to Phoenix as the President & CEO of Valle del Sol, a drug addiction rehabilitation organization.

Pete rejoined CPLC in 1984 as President & CEO. He would go on to become the most successful and longest serving leader of the organization, retiring after 24 years at its head. Under his leadership, CPLC's operating budget grew from $3Million to over $60Million, and in 2008 it was named as the second largest Hispanic Non-Profit in the US by Hispanic Business Magazine. During this time Pete received numerous awards and recognition including thrice being invited to participate in Ditchley Foundation Conferences in Enstone, Oxfordshire, UK. He was also selected as Johnson Fellow, named an AARP Inspire award recipient, received the Caesar E Chavez Leadership Institute legacy award, Pioneer in Excellence by Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), and "One of the Valley's Most Influential People" by the Business Journal of Phoenix, among many others. During his career Pete met with three different U.S. Presidents and His Royal Highness Charles, Prince of Wales.

It was on these trips to the UK that Pete first began to encounter his Welsh friends, several of whom would remain dear to him until his last days.

Pete's "retirement" consisted of him starting a whole new foundation focused on creating educational opportunities for underserved students. He named it the Victoria Foundation in honor of his mother. From 2008-2017 Pete raised more than $4Million to enable students to attend ASU, UofA, NAU, GCU, Maricopa Community Colleges, and several out of state schools. The Foundation offered scholarships to 80 community college students, 60 university students, and 4 medical school students.

Pete also raised money through the Victoria foundation to provide 300 bikes for inner city youths, to provide stockings to the elderly at Christmas, and to provide Turkey dinners to Veterans on Thanksgiving.

Pete is preceded in death by his mother Victoria. He is survived by his wife Sarah, brother Richard, Sister Annie Lee, children Daniel, Hilario (Taryn), Illana (Raed), and grandchildren Brenna, Morgan, Pete, Leila, and Alya.

A Rosary will be said on Wednesday May 17th at 7pm at Rest Haven Mortuary, 4310 E Southern Avenue Phoenix, AZ 85042. A Catholic memorial mass will be held on Thursday May 18th at 10AM at St. Timothy's Catholic Church, 1730 W Guadalupe Rd Mesa, AZ 85202. In lieu of flowers the family request donations be made to the Victoria Foundation 1112 E Buckeye Rd Ste B5 Phoenix, AZ 85034 (602) 253-9533

Pete loved life, and always lived it to its fullest with no regrets.
Published in The Arizona Republic from May 14 to May 15, 2017
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