Former Big Fresno Fair board member Joseph S. De Los Santos served in the Marines when he was a young man, and the military rigor he learned later led to his advocating for Hispanic culture at the annual event.
John Alkire, CEO of The Big Fresno Fair, said De Los Santos, a retired Marine captain, often brought his "military attitude" to the fair board.
"He was really a fighter," Alkire said of De Los Santos, who died last month. "He was always pulling for people that were less fortunate in the community.
"He was very unique. I think he was a very strong advocate for the Hispanic culture in Fresno County. He always wanted equal opportunity for everyone. We have lost a true champion."
De Los Santos sustained a heart attack on Christmas Day. He died on Jan. 23 at Community Regional Medical Center.
De Los Santos, 67, of Clovis, joined the military in 1964, and served in combat during the Vietnam War.
He was awarded a number of medals for his bravery, including the Bronze Star, a Combat Action Ribbon, two presidential citations, the Vietnamese Campaign Medal with four stars and several others.
In 1969, De Los Santos traded combat for computers when he re-enlisted, and later won a number of scholarships and awards as a programmer, teacher and officer in charge of various computer services at Marine Corps bases and installations.
De Los Santos earned a bachelor's degree in 1974 in computer science with an emphasis in quantitative methods from California State University, Fullerton.
In 1986, he went on to earn a master's degree in computer resource management with an emphasis in project management from Webster University in St. Louis.
De Los Santos retired from the Marines after his last active-duty assignment in 1987.
He moved to Clovis and became president of American Media and Supply Inc., and chairman of the Computer Science Department of National College.
De Los Santos was a computer software consultant for many national and international entities, including Blue Shield, Walmart, Coca-Cola, Sprint and Bank of America.
In 2001, De Los Santos became the chief consultant for an online business and helped deliver Internet service to rural Fresno County communities until 2011, when he started a company called Jodan Wifi, another technology firm.
De Los Santos was also an active member of the Marines veterans group, Those Who Served, and was the chief organizer of an annual Marine Corps ball in Sanger.
Santos also made it a point to get involved in the community when he was appointed to the Big Fresno Fair board of directors in 2005.
He was one of the organizers and board members of the Latino Mayors and Elected Officials Coalition up until the end of his four-year term in 2009.
Joseph S. De Los Santos
Born: May 30, 1946
Died: Jan. 23, 2014
Survivors: Wife Marcie De Los Santos of Clovis; daughters Melissa De Los Santos and Monica K. Wegley of Clovis; brother Bob De Los Santos of Tulare; sisters Elva Strawn, Linda Gottsch and Rebecca Thompson, all of Tulare; and grandson Joseph D. De Los Santos of Clovis.
Memorial service: 11 a.m. Saturday at Calvary Fellowship Church, 737 Church Ave., Sanger. A reception and military ceremony will follow at the Sanger Community Center, 730 Recreation Ave.
Contributions: Donations may be made at any branch of Bank of the Sierra.
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