Honoring John J. Serpaby Representative Jeff Denham
Posted on 2013-03-14
in the house of representatives
Thursday, March 14, 2013
Mr. DENHAM. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to acknowledge and honor the
life of a beloved leader in the San Joaquin Valley, John J. Serpa.
Patriarch of the Serpa family, John passed away due to heart failure on
March 5, 2013.
John was born in 1925 at the family's ranch house in the wilds of Siskiyou County. The first son of immigrants Joseph Cardoza Serpa and Luduvina Texeira, John attended school in Etna at Mound School, one of California's disappearing one-room schools in the Scarface Hamlin Gulch area of the Scott Mountain Range. Even as a young boy, John's concern was always the welfare of this family. The Great Depression had swept through the country like wildfire, causing the family to lose its ranch, its livestock and its way of life. John's sense of family responsibility sent him to work driving a derrick for more fortunate neighboring ranchers. He earned 75 cents a day, which he gave his mother for groceries, although he himself was without shoes.
The family moved to Stockton in 1936, when John's father learned of an opportunity to obtain ranching property there. John soon became his father's right-hand man in managing the family's holdings. He graduated from Stockton High School, where he excelled in sports and business curriculum. He enrolled at College of the Pacific (now University of the Pacific), and quickly became a member of the university's renowned football team under the guidance of its famed coach, Amos Alonzo Staff.
When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, John's classmates were drafted into the military to serve their country in World War II. Although he was a principal in running his father's ranch and qualified for exemption from the draft, John interrupted his education to enlist in the United States Marines. He was sent to boot training at the Marine Corps Depot in San Diego, California. After completing basic training, John was transferred from San Diego to the Asiatic Pacific Theatre, seeing action in the Philippines and Okinawa, where he was severely injured.
When he returned home, John invested his military savings in ranch property that his father wanted to buy on Corral Hollow Road in Tracy. John loved law enforcement and soon left ranching to join the Tracy Police Department, where he quickly rose to the rank of Captain. He was an accomplished marksman, gun enthusiast, hunter and outdoorsman and spent his off-hours hunting elk with his brothers in the wilds of Idaho.
In January of 1952, he married Dolores Azevedo, the mother of his children, whom he met when they both were members of St. Bernard's Catholic Church. She preceded him in death on March 17, 2007.
A graduate of Delta College with emphasis on Police Science, John continued his law enforcement studies at San Jose State, UC Davis, Chabot College, Modesto Junior College, and Contra Costa Junior College. He also held an advanced certificate from California Peace Officers Standards and Training, as well as an NRA Lifetime Masters Shooters Certificate in the police combat category, under which he created and trained a police combat shooting team, winning many state championships.
John retired from the Tracy Police Department after 20 years of dedicated service, during which he greatly advanced the department's training program. After retirement, John's interest in business and community service moved him to the city of Lathrop, where he invested in real estate and became a leader in civic activities. He served two terms on the San Joaquin County Grand Jury, one term as its Vice Chairman; served on the County Board of Zoning Adjustments and the Lathrop Planning Commission; served two terms on the board of the Lathrop County Water District; served on the Lathrop Advisory Committee and Lathrop City Incorporation Committee; and was a powerful voice in numerous municipal legislative hearings. He was a past president of the Interstate 5 Association and a past president of a number of community service clubs, including the Rotary, the Kiwanis, and the Lions Clubs.
John received numerous honors and national recognition for his continuing involvement over three decades with the United States Marine Corps League. He was named Honorary National Past Commandant of the League at its national convention in Rochester, Minnesota--only the fourth time in the history of the Marine Corps League that a member has been granted that title.
John is survived by his current wife of 27 years, Linda ``Lyn'' Ann- Marie Serpa; his children Gaylene Serpa of Tracy, Michael Serpa of Galt, Paul Serpa of Manteca, and John [[Page E305]] Thomas Serpa of Lathrop; and stepchildren Scott Rosenquist, Kristen Wight, Wendy Frink, and Susan Rosenquist. Other survivors included grandchildren Nicole Vertar, Gregory Serpa, Marissa Serpa, Nicholas Serpa, Anthony Serpa, and Matthew Serpa; one great-granddaughter, Aria Serpa; 11 step-grandchildren and two step great-grandchildren; sisters Alma Carroll of San Francisco, Mary Compton of Fair Oaks and Margaret Buckingham of Cambria; and brother Edwin Serpa of Tracy.
Mr. Speaker, please join me in honoring John Serpa for his unwavering leadership, and recognizing his accomplishments and contributions. He will be remembered as a highly respected Tracy businessman, deeply involved in community and civic affairs, and well known for his efforts in bettering and developing services for veterans under the auspices of his beloved Marine Corps League.