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Isidro V. Bernal


1941 - 2019
Isidro V. Bernal Obituary
Isidro V. Bernal, 78, of Fairbanks, passed away on July 7, 2019, in Mexico, after a courageous battle with esophageal cancer. He was laid to rest in the Panteon de Dolores in Ciudad Hidalgo, Michoacán.
Isidro was born May 13, 1941, to parents Venancia Vaca Garcia and Leon Bernal Arreola, of Mexico. He grew up in the countryside and enjoyed his life on his family's ranch in the state of Michoacán. Life on his parents' ranch was hard work, but this instilled in him an excellent work ethic and humility. He loved horses and joined Mexico's national sport, La Charreria, and proudly became an official Charro Mexicano in his 20s. One of his greatest interests was singing mariachi music and rarely turned down the opportunity to sing a song at family events or community celebrations.
Isidro first came to the United States via the final waves of the Bracero Program. He arrived at Brownsville, Texas, in the early 1960s when, upon arriving, he along with other fieldworkers were rushed into a building, told to remove their clothes and were sprayed down with pesticides as part of the in-process procedures. After working the fields for several months, Isidro moved to Chicago. During his time in Chicago, he began to take English classes and continued to practice La Charreria participating in parades and community events, while working as a busser at a local restaurant called the Miller's Steakhouse. One day, while at work, he had the honor of attending to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s table. This was one event Isidro remembered fondly.
During the late 1960s, Isidro returned to Mexico and met his wife, Lourdes. In 1971, he and Lourdes married and immigrated to the United States. After a brief stay in Chicago, they made their home in Alaska. Isidro and Lourdes lived in Fairbanks for 48 years. He was very proud to have worked on the pipeline as a laborer. He became a U.S. citizen in 1985 and continued to share his Mexican culture and language with the Fairbanks community.
Isidro was a civil rights pioneer for Latinos in Fairbanks and always helped those in need. In 1977, he was appointed to the city Human Rights Commission, where he served two years representing the Latino population of Fairbanks. He also worked toward the establishment of the Bilingual-Bicultural Education Program in the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District, now known as the English Language Learner Program. In 1981, he became the charter president for the local nonprofit, Latinos Unidos del Norte, where he made many lifelong friendships. In 1984, he served as an usher for Pope John Paul II's visit to Alaska and met both the Pope and President Ronald Regan. In 1985, he worked with local leaders to establish Hispanic Heritage Week in Fairbanks. He also helped establish and served many years through the 1990s as a board member of the Southside Community Center, now known as the JP Jones Community Development Center. He was also a long-term member of the Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie 1037.
Isidro and his family spent many years participating in Friendship Day and the Golden Days Parade, proudly representing their Mexican culture. Isidro was known as "El Charro Mexicano," or the Mexican Cowboy, who walked the parade performing rope tricks in the 1980s, 1990s and the early 2000s. He was a devout Catholic and parishioner of Sacred Heart Cathedral, attending Mass in Spanish regularly. He held Our Lady of Guadalupe close to his heart and attended her yearly Feast Day Mass dressed in his charro suit, ready to sing mariachi music in her honor.
Isidro retired from the Local Laborers 942 in 1991 but continued managing his rental properties. He spent his retirement with his children and their growing families, traveling across the U.S. with his wife and traveling to Mexico. He also spent many hours working and developing the family's land north of Fairbanks.
During his last year of life, Isidro and Lourdes spent their time in Fairbanks and visiting family across the U.S., while balancing time in Houston, Texas, for treatment. Together, with their children and grandchildren, they spent his last summer together celebrating life and enjoying family in Mexico. During a family meeting with his wife and children, he gave thanks to his wife, Lourdes, for raising their children and her support and love throughout their life together. He wished his children happiness in life, to always do good and to work hard. Isidro always kept the desire to return to his home in Alaska.
Isidro is survived by his wife, Lourdes; his five children, Lourdes Bernal, Alexander Bernal, Reina Hasting and her husband, Nick, and their children Ryan, Vanessa, Taylor and Ian, and great-grandson Raleigh; Juan Bernal, of New York, and his wife, Michele, and their son, Ezekiel; Linda Sobarzo and her husband, Iram Eduardo, and their children, Iram Alejandro, Erika, Eduardo and Enrique; his nephews, Lazaro Bernal and Miguel Montes de Oca; along with the many close friendships he made throughout his life in Fairbanks. He is also survived by his older brother, Olegario Bernal, of Ciudad Hidalgo; several aunts, an uncle, cousins, nieces and nephews who reside across the U.S. and Mexico. He was preceded in death by his parents, five brothers, four sisters and his great-grandson Roan.
A memorial Mass will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019, at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Fairbanks, with a reception to follow at Miguel's Mexican Restaurant, 1235 Airport Way. The family asks that people make donations in support of the Latinos Unidos del Norte UAF Scholarship Fund, ATTN: Daniel Darrow, P.O. Box 756440, Fairbanks, AK 99775, or Sacred Heart Cathedral, 1300 Peger Road, Fairbanks, 99701, in lieu of sending flowers.
Published in Daily News-Miner on Aug. 25, 2019
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