It is an honor to speak about Dolores Velasco as we bring her to her rest. But Dolores does not require any of us to speak approvingly of her today. The countless deeds of kindness, humility and love performed over a lifetime speak far more eloquently about Dolores than any poor words we can offer.
I really got to know Dolores well the last 11 years. We spent much time together. I learned of her years in the convent and of the 20 wonderful years she was married to Pete.
Dolores and Pete could not have come from more different worlds. She was from a German American family in Baltimore and entered the convent at age 20. He was the product of an immigration policy that imported thousands of young Filipino men to toil in America’s fields—while forbidding them to marry and enjoy the comforts of family and children.
Ordinary men could easily have been embittered, but not Pete. His infectious smile brightened things up wherever he went. Dolores shared his smile as well as his life.
Her sister, Frances, said “[Dolores] adored Pete and Pete adored her.” With the marriage, “she was the happiest I had ever seen her.” Arturo Rodriguez, in his eulogy for Pete in 1995, said Pete’s “marriage to Dolores was one of the most joyous moments of his life.”
Perhaps it was because these two people from different worlds shared so much in common—an abundant faith in God…
…faith in the cause to which they both dedicated their lives…
…faith in fulfilling Cesar Chavez’s vision of building a community at La Paz where they could live out the nonviolent principles they cherished.
…faith in the friendship and solidarity they willingly shared with everyone in the movement…
When Dolores began declining in her final years, so many in the community came forward to reciprocate all Dolores had selflessly given them—from Diana Alvarez and Maria Ybarra to Diana Martinez, Connie Andreesen and Kathleen Bloom. They washed her clothes, drove her to church and shopping, took her to lunch and on walks with her dear dog, Precious, and checked on her daily. Later, they took over her finances, paid her bills and took care of her.
Dolores always felt she was home with family all the years she was with the movement.
The best way we can honor Dolores Velasco is by continuing the labors she began among us in her quiet and peaceful ways until we also have obeyed that commandment set out in the Book of the Prophet Micah, “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”
Thank you—and Mabuhay Dolores Velasco!