Isaac Cota of Tulare, pastor of Tulare Apostolic Assembly in Tulare, has died.
He was 85.
Since 1962, he was pastor of the Spanish-language Pentecostal church where his father served as pastor before him.
Mr. Cota was active in the Apostolic Assembly of the Faith in Christ Jesus national organization, holding several leadership positions.
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"He grew up in the barrio in Tulare," said his son, Steve Cota. "He had a heart for the people. He would never miss a funeral."
He died Sept. 18.
Mr. Cota went to school with Bob Mathias, the legendary Olympic athlete from Tulare.
And he prayed with Ariel Sharon in Israel.
In 1990 or 1991, Mr. Cota was with a group of church leaders from several denominations that traveled to the Holy Land.
"During a special guided tour, they were informed that they would be meeting a 'special guest,' " said Michael Cota, his grandson. "The bus arrived at a nearby home and out walked Ariel Sharon."
Sharon, who later became prime minister, gave them a tour of military sites and remnants of military equipment from the 1967 Six-Day War. He also showed them Megiddo, a place of significance in the book of Revelation.
"Before they left, Sharon asked my grandfather to pray for him," Michael said. "He did."
In turn, Mr. Cota asked Sharon to pray for him.
Mr. Cota was also among a delegation of 11 clergy that met with Vice President George Bush in 1988, and attended the Texas ball in Washington, D.C., for Bush's inauguration.
Mr. Cota served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War era.
While stationed in Virginia, he had his trombone shipped from Tulare after the commanding officer asked for volunteers to form a band.
Mr. Cota, who was born on the Fourth of July 1929, "was very patriotic," his son said.
He was employed for many years as a social worker by Tulare County.
His wife, the former Lydia Chabiel, 85, lived across the street when they were growing up, and they were the only boyfriend or girlfriend each ever had, said his daughter, Arlene Cota.
"Their first meeting was in a rumble seat at age 5," she said.
They married at age 22. She survives him.
A funeral will be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Visalia Convention Center.
BATON TWIRLER: Emily Dooms, 17, of Visalia, knows where she'll be at halftime Saturday when the UCLA Bruins play the University of Utah Utes at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.
She'll be on the field twirling her baton with the Bruin marching band.
The senior at University High in Fresno has won international competitions in baton twirling.
University of California at Los Angeles students ReJoyce Green and Michelle Glymph, who are Golden Girl baton twirlers for the Bruin marching band, invited her to join them because she will be applying to colleges soon, and they want her to consider UCLA.
"They're recruiting a Golden Girl for next year," Emily said.
Emily will perform routines she worked up on her own.
"I really love the chance to express myself in an individual way," she said.
Her parents are Kevin and Yvette Dooms of Visalia.
TRAFFIC AWARD: The Visalia Police Department won first place in the California Law Enforcement Challenge for having the best traffic safety program in the state for a department its size.
Agencies are rated on officer training, law enforcement and public education about seat belts, DUI and speeding.
The California Highway Patrol, in partnership with the Office of Traffic Safety and Alcoholic Beverage Control, gives the award.
Police Chief Colleen Mestas said traffic division grant funding requires DUI checkpoints, safety presentations and more.
"It's a very busy unit," she said. "You have to be able to produce. They're a very proud group."