Gilbert Leal, 79
Indian Valley resident Gilbert Leal passed from this life peacefully with his family at his side, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2010, at Renown Medical Center in Reno, Nev., from heart complications.
Born to Mexican immigrants Antonio and Brigetta Hernandez Leal in San Ysidro, May 1, 1930, he was the first of the family born in the United States. Gilbert was raised and educated in San Ysidro graduating from Chula Vista High School as a member of the class of 1950.
Gilbert joined the U.S. Air Force out of high school, where his talent as a trumpeter was put to use playing “Taps” at the funerals of fellow soldiers lost in Korea.
Upon discharge, he went to work in the hotel industry as a bellhop and just a day before his GI Bill benefits were to run out made the decision to return to school. He enrolled at San Diego State where he obtained his degree in history with a minor in Spanish.
With a provisional teaching credential in hand, he moved north to begin a long and fulfilling teaching career. While teaching sixth grade at Benecia Unified School District, just out of college, he met a beautiful young teacher who he immediately fell in love with, Sophia Kallis.
The couple was united in matrimony during a High Mass at St. Basail's Catholic Church in Vallejo, a ceremony later blessed by the Pope May 7, 1966. To this holy union one daughter and three sons were born.
Gilbert continued his teaching career in the Vallejo schools of Franklin and Solano and was later handpicked to be part of the staff that opened Vallejo Junior High School.
Following his retirement Gilbert continued to serve as a longterm substitute for 15 more years.
As a young man, Gilbert became an avid outdoorsman both out of the love of the outdoors and the need to provide for his family hunting and fishing for food. He found great solace in his time in the outdoors, traveling throughout the West and especially enjoyed passing this love on to his sons and grandsons.
His passion for music began when his brother paid for trumpet lessons while he was a young man and continued throughout his life. It is said he could name and play all the hits of the 1940s. Gilbert again found pride in passing this passion on to his family.
Gilbert was a devout member of the Roman Catholic faith and was, along with his late wife, were stalwarts in St. Anthony's Catholic Church in Greenville.
He was a Third Degree Knight with the St. Basil's Knights of Columbus Chapter in Vallejo, as well as a member of Ducks Unlimited and the NRA.
First and foremost, Gilbert was a loving family man who took great pride in all they have accomplished. He developed a great relationship with his grandchildren in his later years and was always proud of his extended family of nieces and nephews.
In passing Gilbert leaves his daughter, Maria and her husband, Sean, of Greenville; son Christopher and his wife. Debbie, of Greenville; James and his wife, Gabrielle, of Lake View, Ore. and John and his wife, Melissa, of Cresswell, Ore.; his precious grandchildren, Ashley, Megan and Sam Johnson, Gabriel, Sylvia, Helena, Rachel, John, Dominic and Bridgette Leal; a brother, Antonio Leal, of Eureka and sister Catalina Valasquez of Polway, along with his much-loved nieces and nephews.
Along with his parents, he is reunited with his loving wife, Sophia, one brother and three sisters in their eternal home with the Lord.
A vigil service to include recitation of the Holy Rosary will take place at 7 p.m. Friday Jan. 29, followed by a Mass of Christian Burial to be celebrated for the repose of Gilbert's soul at 11 a.m., Saturday, Jan. 30; both at St. Anthony's Catholic Church in Greenville. Interment will follow in the Greenville District Cemetery.
An opportunity to express condolences to the family and sign the memorial guest register is available online at fehrmanmortuary.com.
The family suggests any remembrances in Gilbert's name be made to the St. Anthony's Catholic Church Altar Society, c/o Fehrman Mortuary and Crematory, P.O. Box 803, Greenville, CA 95947.