Jose (Pepe) Rios Morales passed away at home, surrounded by family, on Sunday, August 8, 2021 in Tacoma, Washington at the age of 86 years old.
Pepe was born March 3, 1935, in La Union, New Mexico. He grew up in Canutillo, Texas, just outside of El Paso. His parents were Ysabel R. and Isabel Morales. Ysabel and Isabel were blessed to have 14 children. Pepe was their seventh child, so he had plenty of siblings to keep him company. After completing 10th grade, Pepe began taking on various jobs and duties around the house.
On August 28, 1956, at the age of 21, Pepe joined the US Marines. He was stationed at Camp Pendleton in San Diego, California. His primary assignment was in Motor Transport and his duties include overseeing the repair and maintenance in many of the motor and diesel vehicles operated by the Marines. Because of his leadership, high level of skill, and serving as a role model for newly enlisted recruits, he was promoted to Lance Corporal. This was an honor Pepe cherished throughout his life. His service with the Marines lasted until April 10, 1959 and he completed the remainder of his duty with the Reserves. He was honorably discharged from the Marines on August 27, 1962. Following his time in the service, Pepe started working in nurseries and took various side jobs after to support himself. Eventually he moved to San Jose to live with his brother and sister-in-law.
He met Mary Ann Guerra in San Jose, California in 1961. The two met at a party and went on many dates after meeting. They then were married May 10, 1963. Following their marriage, Pepe and Mary moved to the Los Angeles area to begin their new lives as a family. To support his new family, Pepe found a career as a foundry worker. After many years of hard work, Pepe and Mary were fortunate to purchase their first home in Pomona, California in 1968. After spending most of his adult life living in California, Pepe was ready for a change of scenery. Mary agreed and together they began to look for opportunities outside of Los Angeles. Fortunately, Pepe found another position as a foundry worker in Seattle and decided to accept the job. In 1979 they left Pomona, California for greener pastures in Tacoma, Washington. Life was great for Pepe and Mary. On August 12, 1991, they renewed their vows with family and friends in attendance. They would remain together until Mary’s death on March 3, 2019. They were married for 56 years.
Pepe had many hobbies. One of his favorite hobbies was gardening; he had a green thumb. He grew a Redwood and oak tree from a sprout. Both remain in their backyard to this day. In his youth, Pepe played baseball for many recreational teams in and around El Paso, but mostly with his siblings and friends. He was also an avid reader. Many days you would find Pepe with a book in his hand lost in a murder mystery. Eventually he received a Kindle reader as a gift and found that new stories were just a click away, but he would always welcome an actual book when offered one. In addition to gardening and reading, Pepe loved to tinker in his garage and eventually taught himself how to maintain lawn mowers and other small engines. He was also well versed in the language of Volkswagen Bugs. He would often brag that he could remove and reinstall an engine from a Bug in one day.
Pepe and Mary loved to travel. They visited many places like Arizona, Texas, Oregon, and Hawaii, to name a few. One of their most memorable trips was to the East Coast, specifically a tour of New York City and Washington D.C. Later in life, one of his greatest joys was spending time with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. When his grandchildren were young, he loved attending their sporting events and extra-curricular activities.
Pepe is survived by his four children and their spouses: Terry and Brian Foster; Louise and Manual Martinez; JoAnn and Brian Parker; and Dennis Morales; his 8 grandchildren: Anita, Nick, and Danny; Eddie, Trino, and Lydia; and Jayme and Alex. Pepe was fortunate enough have spent quality time with all his 22 great-grandchildren.
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