Obituary of Juan Valadez Gonzalez
Juan Valadez Gonzalez
3/31/1929 – 7/21/2023
Juan V. Gonzalez was born on March 31st, 1929 in Dayton, Nevada. When he was 6 years old his parents returned the family, which at that time including Juan and his younger sister, to Mexico. Juan would eventually be the oldest of 7 children.
In his 20s, Juan married Maria Lopez in Mexico and had his first child, Jose Luis in 1952. Several years later, Juan left the marriage and family and returned to the United States.
Juan found work in northern California. He worked for a short time on the railroad then he went to work logging in the forests of Plumas county.
While working out of Greenville, CA in 1955 he met and married Margaret Prasun. They had 6 children – Rose, Jose “Bub” (who passed in 2012), Roberta, Juanita, Brenda and Rita. Juan and Margaret would remain married for 25 years and would remain friends until her passing in 2015.
In 1956 Juan joined the Laborers Union and began a long career doing many different kinds of labor/construction projects. At the time of Juan’s passing he had a total of 67 years as a proud member of Laborers International Union, Local 185.
In 1960 Juan brought the family to Placerville, and he began working on the Upper American River Project consisting of a series and diversion tunnels and dams. That project resulted in some of Juan’s favorite places, “his” reservoirs –Loon Lake, Union Valley Reservoir, Ice House, Slab Creek and Chili Bar.
He then worked on the Auburn Dam diversion tunnel and the 730 ft tall Foresthill Bridge. His final employment as a laborer for the Union was working on the cooling towers of the Rancho Seco Nuclear Power Plant.
Juan was a very social guy and he had met several of the local orchard owners around town. Being fluent in both English and Spanish, Juan was soon called on to act as a liaison between the orchard owners and their mostly Spanish speaking crews. As his career in labor ended he found a new calling in coordinating farm workers for the local orchards. Juan loved working with some of the old guard of Apple Hill – the Bethel, Casewell, Larsen, Delfino and Visman families and several more including some vineyards in his final years.
In 1987, Juan met and married a young lady named Engracia who had two beautiful daughters, Josephina and Isabel. Together they had a son, Juan Manuel. They would later divorce but Juan remained “Poppie” to his two loving step-daughters.
Juan labored for a long as he could in the woods, on the dams and tunnels, in the orchards and in his home gardens.
In his final years Juan became the “Union Ridge Greeter”, sitting for long hours under his front awning waving at all that passed by. He was out there waving on the morning of Friday July 21st. He had a very good day, joking and laughing with two of his daughters. That evening he finished his last Taco Bell burrito from the refrigerator (his favorite dinner.) He topped off that meal with the last piece of his favorite cake. Just a few hours later, at the glorious age of 94, Juan went from talking to one of his daughter to peacefully slipping away.
We are very grateful for the many years we had with our Dad, and the many moments and tales he shared with his 30 grandchildren and 28 great-grandchildren.