Mario J. Aranda, Sr.
July 14, 1941 - August 26, 2020
Mario Jaime Aranda, Sr., 79, passed away Wednesday, August 26, 2020 at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco from COVID-19. He is deeply missed.
Mario was a vibrant, loving, spiritual man who most found to be extraordinarily kind, perceptive, intelligent, soulful, generous and playful, with a lively sense of humor and a gift for dynamic storytelling. In his work, he was a powerful spokesperson, negotiator and friend-maker across cultural and racial divides, and a passionate advocate for the rights of immigrants.
Born in the mountains of Bella Vista, Chihuahua, Mexico on July 14, 1941 and raised in Colonia Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico, Mario immigrated to the United States in the late 1950s and subsequently graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in Sociology. He was married to his wife Dana Rosado for nearly thirty years and partnered with his husband Greg Hinson for the past twenty.
During the mid-1970s, Mario and Dana moved their growing family to Chicago, where he administered multilingual programs for the Chicago Public Schools and became a director in the Department of Education for the Illinois Office of Education. He was known to legislators and policymakers as a persistent and relentless advocate for bilingual education, serving children who collectively spoke more than a hundred languages beyond English. On a state level and for the City of Chicago, his work reduced dropout rates and laid the foundation for further significant improvement of public education for decades to come, directly impacting an entire generation of Chicagoans.
In the late 1970s, he became Executive Director of the Latino Institute, which fought against discriminatory practices and unfair wages for workers through public policy research and civic engagement. His leadership there united previously disparate factions of Latinos, creating a powerful political bloc that advocated for their collective needs. In his calls for unity, Mario was quoted saying "Hispanics have tended to be socialized to believe we have to wait in line, the pie is small, and if it's divided we have to fight among ourselves. Our greatest enemy is ignorance about ourselves." He was frequently outspoken in the press, including The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and others in articles most often related to philanthropic organizations and their lack of responsiveness to the Hispanic community.
Mario was particularly honored to advise President Jimmy Carter in 1979 during the President's SALT II negotiations with Leonid Brezhnev. During the 1980s, he was under consideration by Chicago Mayor Harold Washington to serve as Deputy Mayor, but declined in order to maintain a level of safety for his family. He continued to advise Washington until the Mayor's untimely death in 1987.
In 1993, he became the founding President and Publisher of Exito newspaper for the Tribune Corporation in Chicago. Exito would go on to become the largest Spanish-language periodical in the United States.
Mario was named Illinois Citizen of the Year and served on such diverse councils as the MacArthur Foundation, the national board of the Children's Television Workshop, MALDEF, the Illinois Council on Employment and Training, the Chicago Civic Coalition of the Chicago Bar Association, DePaul University's Board of Trustees, and many others.
In 1998, Mario moved to Northern California's Bay Area where he would meet his eventual husband Greg Hinson, founder of O Olive Oil, a premier producer of California specialty olive oils and vinegars. Together Greg and Mario grew the business for nearly 20 years, eventually selling it to Landec Corporation in 2017. At the time of its acquisition, O Olive Oil had won more Specialty Food Association awards than any other olive oil or vinegar company in the world.
In his recent retirement Mario continued his study of philosophy and religion, as well as anti-Chinese sentiment during the Mexican Revolution (the latter being a key component of his ancestral history). He continued to advocate for migrant workers at the individual level, often engaging with and encouraging those he met in passing within his community.
Mario Aranda is survived by his husband Greg Hinson of San Rafael, CA and former wife Dana (Rosado) Campbell of La Costa, CA; children Mario Aranda II, (Paul Fagen), Xiomara Sanchez (Victor Sanchez), Julian Aranda, Ximen Christiansen (Chad Christiansen), Xan Aranda, Jacob Aranda, Joseph Aranda, Kai Hinson (Bryan Connolly), and Xena Hinson; grandchildren Wyldon Sanchez, Xochitl Sanchez, Ezra Christiansen, August Christiansen, Aria Christiansen, and Zay Christiansen; sisters Gloria Lewis, Lili Davis (Dean Davis), and Teresa Aranda; cousin Xedex Olivas; nieces and nephews Curtis Weidner, Lisa Bonner, Kirsten Worden (Dan Worden), Sunshine Barrett (Jason Barrett), Darby Davis, Ben Davis (Heather Davis), Circle Pasto (Nick Pasto), Ethan Davis (Nathalie Davis), Chandler Davis (Jamie Lee Davis), Mikkel Davis (Larissa Davis), Shiloh Davis, Enoch Davis (Laís Davis), Jameson Aranda and Seraph Aranda.
Mario was preceded in death by his parents, Angela (Carrasco) Ivey and Salomón Aranda.
Members of Mario's immediate family celebrated his life in a private gathering, strictly observing all pandemic precautions, in San Rafael, California the weekend following his passing.
Donations in Mario Aranda's name may be made to two organizations close to the family's heart: People With Disabilities Succeeding
and Halleck Creek Ranch
Published by San Francisco Chronicle from Sep. 21 to Sep. 22, 2020.