Cecil "Beanie" Preciado
Santa Paula - Santa Paula native Cecil Preciado peacefully passed at home on the evening of March 16 at the age of 92. A popular member of the SPHS Class of '48 he was the living embodiment of his high school's mascot "Joe Cardinal" and was devoted to the betterment of his beloved city and schools in every aspect of his wonderful life.
Born on April 14, 1928 the eighth of eleven children to Leon Frias and Ester Huerta Preciado, Cecil experienced the hardships of America's Great Depression learning and earning the value of hard work but shared in the joy that came from a loving family of 7 sisters and 4 brothers.
As a young boy his fervent American patriotism was shaped by newspaper accounts and newsreels of American servicemen, family and friends engaged in World War II campaigns in Africa, Europe and the Pacific. It intensified when he was drafted into the Army during the Korean War in 1950 following his graduation from Ventura College and was honorably discharged achieving the rank of Staff Sergeant in late 1952.
Only four days after returning home, at a family BBQ at Griffith Park, Cecil met Verna Pinzon a Los Angeles girl who became the love of his life. Dressed in Levi pedal pushers with her radiant red hair held together in curlers and scarf, the always smiling Verna and Cecil began a three-year courtship and were married on September 2nd, 1955. They enjoyed a month long honeymoon driving and hoteling from Carmel to Vancouver and a marriage that lasted 61 years in Santa Paula's cozy environment.
Moving into Uncle Cid Huerta's rental on Whipple Road on the eastern outskirts of town was made easier with Cecil's multitude of family and friends and the birth of their two sons Victor in 1956 and Cid in 1959. In 1963 their young family moved into their present home on Hobbs Circle.
He joined the VC Fire Dept. in 1954 and after graduating with a B.S. degree in Fire Science from USC in 1957 Cecil worked his way to the rank of Fire Suppression Captain heading the Saticoy Fire Station until his retirement in 1979 following a 25-year career at age 50.
As a lifelong volunteer to civic causes and organizations Cecil Preciado's humble approach to working behind the scenes earned him great respect and admiration. He worked tirelessly for the Blanchard Community Library raising funds to keep it financially afloat and served as Trustee on its Board of Directors. He passionately believed that education and knowledge was the key to improving human lives.
His lifelong dedication to his Santa Paula High School alma mater was constant from the moment he entered its beautiful hallways in the fall of 1944. He was a charter member of the Santa Paula Education Foundation which established a financial aid program for needy college bound students and helped build an endowment program that continues to support university dreams today. He was an original member of The SPHS Alumni Association that worked to preserve the historical records, photographs, art work and architecture of its 100+ year campus.
He was instrumental in the organization and passage of multiple community School Bond measures to rehabilitate aging school buildings.
But most of all Cecil Preciado will be remembered for taking pictures and giving them away as presents. In everyday Santa Paula life it was customary to see Cecil wearing his fabled camera vest filled to the brim with rolls of film, snapping pictures of parades, football games, graduation ceremonies, just about any event that brought out crowds of people. Described as "a Santa Paula Icon" one could surmise that Cecil captured a photographic history of Santa Paula and its colorful people. And he always did this with a purposeful smile.
In 1985 he and his cheerful wife were selected "Citizens of the Year' by the S.P. Chamber of Commerce. While he and Verna rode as Grand Marshall's in an open convertible through the Main Street Christmas Parade experiencing the shouts of congratulatory and joyous praise from its citizenry, a recognition of love and support for the only town he lived in came to full circle.
In passing he leaves behind sons Victor of Oahu, Hawaii and Cid (& partner Gil Rodriquez) of Palm Springs, and grandson Cylus of Oahu, Hawaii.
In keeping with his final wishes no funeral services or burial plans are presently planned. Donations to honor Cecil's extraordinary contributions to his community may be made by visiting The Santa Paula Education Foundation (SPEF) webpage at https://www.spedufoundation.org
and selecting the "Donate" button or sending a tax deductible check to P.O. Box 805, Santa Paula, CA. 93061.