Job Lopez, a vocal social justice advocate who co-founded the Mountain View Day Worker Center, died Jan. 3 from complications related to a stroke. He was 75.
Up to his final days, Lopez was an active figure at public meetings and political events in Mountain View. He was an aggressive advocate for causes he believed in, including the city's rent control law, tenant displacement and the struggles of undocumented families. He was equally well known for sternly confronting or denouncing those whom he disagreed with, particularly elected leaders, to remind them of the human toll of their decisions.
Lopez was born in Durango, Mexico in 1944, and he emigrated to the United States when he was about 30 years old, according to his family. Initially, he intended to stay for only six months, but he ended up settling down and making California his home. He worked at Hewlett Packard as a computer operator and later started a gardening business that survives to this day.
In 1996, he co-founded the Day Worker Center to create a safe venue for laborers to coordinate their efforts and to ensure they weren't being exploited by employers. At the time, workers looking for temporary jobs were gathering near a nursery on El Camino Real, and they were routinely harassed by nearby business owners and police.
To launch the Day Worker Center, Lopez collaborated with Kate Wakerly, who also founded the Mountain View Voice and Father Eugene O'Donnell, then the pastor of St. Joseph's church. Initially, the small worker center was housed inside the rectory at St. Joseph's, but the group eventually raised enough funds to purchase its current site on Escuela Avenue.
Lopez served for many years on the Day Worker Center's board of directors, and he sometimes filled in to help manage its operations. In his later years, his active role in the community only increased, said Maria Marroquin, the Day Worker Center's executive director. He became a frequent public speaker at meetings and events, particularly on issues of immigrant rights and affordable housing.
"He had strong opinions and he was never shy to express them," Marroquin said. "But he was a really brave community member who was always expressing concerns about the people who were being underserved."
Less well known were the efforts Lopez made on for his friends and neighbors, particularly in the Latino community, Marroquin said. Anyone who needed help could call on Lopez to serve as a translator or to get a ride to the hospital. He opened his house to people who needed housing, and he frequently used his washer and dryer to provide clean clothes for local homeless people.
Lopez is survived by his sister, Micaelina Lopez Reyes; daughters, Emily and Lilia Lopez; and two grandchildren.
Friends and family are invited to a rosary service at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 16, at St. Joseph's Church in Mountain View at 582 Hope St. A funeral mass is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 17, at St. Joseph's. Guests are asked to R.S.V.P. to email@example.com.