Cover photo for Rudolph Manuel Rincon's Obituary
Rudolph Manuel Rincon Profile Photo
1941 Rudolph 2020

Rudolph Manuel Rincon

October 25, 1941 — March 10, 2020

Rudolph Manuel Rincon. “Uncle Rudy” October 25, 1941—March 10, 2020 My dad was born at the Baurhyte Maternity Cottage, a little block building on Utah St. in Los Angeles, on Saturday, October 25th, 1941. He was one of many children growing up in East L.A. in the early 1950s. He played baseball on an open lot, rode his bike down Olympic Boulevard, and snuck into the Jewel Theatre on Whittier, where his older sister Ramona worked. His own dad, Manuel, was the hit of the neighborhood, jokingly scaring the kids with a fake police siren he wired to his ’37 Chevy. Dad said he formed a strong bond with his sister Mona during that time. It wouldn’t have been hard to do; everyone liked Mona! The day his brother Manuel Phillip was born, my dad—now about 9—drove his mom Genevieve to the hospital, after they realized there was no time to reach his dad or neighbors. Not that he wasn’t familiar with cars! His dad used to brag, “Watch this!” and point to a vehicle. My dad—still small enough to stand up in the back seat of their car—could name any make and model that drove past. His brother Phillip is just as well-versed in cars himself. Fast-forward to Garfield High School. My dad owned a’47 Chevy, which he and his dad painted a metallic “Bonneville” green. He was on the gymnastics team, and gave everyone rides home after practice. On weekends he’d drive as far as Santa Barbara; always on the move. After high school came a myriad of jobs: Taxi-driver, a draftsman for Hughes Aircraft, then designing furniture. All the while, he was buying and selling real estate, and booking bands for weddings. The cars got nicer. When my mom first laid eyes on him, he was stepping out of a steel-gray ’59 Porsche, coming to pay his brother Phillip’s tuition at Light-and-Life Christian school, where my mom worked ("Phillip was real popular," said my mom.). Two years later, when Dad finally noticed my mom at his church, he was driving a red Roadster convertible. He treated her to many “surprise” dates: to Catalina Island or Palm Springs for the day, or the Ice House in Pasadena, where they saw an unknown guy named Steve Martin. He was constantly buying and selling his cars for real estate. Once he picked up my mom in a Helms Bakery truck. My mom's name was Magdalena, but to all her nieces and nephews, she was ‘Auntie Nena.’ My parents took them on dates, too, like the community swimming pool. I’m told that my cousins were excited to have Rudy as their uncle. (Except for one, who cried because he thought Auntie wouldn’t take him to Knott’s Berry Farm anymore.) My dad once said, “Your mom was like a treasure to me. I hadn’t been a Christian for very long, and I didn’t know a lot, but I didn’t want to dishonor her parents by living with her, or doing anything that might hurt them, or her.” My dad married ‘Auntie Nena’ at the Bel Air Hotel in September 1973. Fancy venue or no, “it’s not a real wedding,” he told me, “unless there are kids running around with punch on their faces.” I and my sister were born at Cedars of Lebanon in 1975 and ‘76, down the road from their Beverly Hills apartment. When I was two, my parents packed up and followed my mom’s cousins, who had opened a grocery store, F & M Market, in the little town of Visalia. It was fitting that Rudy was born on the artist Picasso’s birthday. Through our growing-up years, he hand-painted and crafted wood signs for local businesses, first in a shop with pinstriper Ruben Holguin, then a shop on Main Street. My dad was always encouraging us—and the kids on our block—to draw and paint. In fact, there is a mural in our present home, in part to show us how to use an airbrush. Both my mom and Aunt Mona were diagnosed with breast cancer in 1987. Auntie Mona valiantly survived two more years. My mother was given 18 years. Despite the chemo and hardships, my parents opened their homes to cousins and friends, even taking in my mom’s mom (Grandma Vicky) for 14 years. After Mom died, my dad took care of Grandma for another two years. During that time, Dad moved his mother, our Grandma Gene, next door to us. I took for granted how much attention he paid her; how he made us watch Hitchcock movies with her (we were supposed to explain the plot first), took her on trips (Sometimes taking *both* grandmas...this as a widower...!), threw her annual birthday parties with our family’s generous help…all of which grew from his own enthusiasm. My dad’s signmaking branched out to small jobs at Fresno Neon Sign Company. He took a more pronounced role in sales and design, and formed a close relationship with owner Bill Kratt and his colleagues for 22 years. His “old-school” trade took him to Israel, where he built a Redwood sign for the IBEX campus of Master’s University. Back home, his ‘City of Visalia’ entry signs still stand along the highway. Most of the high school signs are his design. And any skillful, sandblasted wood signs that remain, are probably connected to him. He worked right up to his first seizure at age 71, in January 2013. A month later, doctors found a tumor growing in his brain. He braved radiation, chemo, and other treatments, thanks to the caring medical team at both Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, and Kaweah-Delta in Visalia. My sister and I saw his deep contentment for whatever God ordained. We enjoyed seven rich years with him, marked by ballgames, deli sandwiches, zoos, visiting my Uncle Phillip (who took over the care of Grandma Gene), laughing with young cousins and kids who gathered like a bright cloud around his wheelchair, or just singing and reading the Bible together. My dad was struck with a blood clot in his lung on Friday, March 6. On March 10, Joanna and I were in the room with him when he stopped breathing. We witnessed no struggle, and we were thankful to be near him to the end. Like King David said, after his son died, in 2 Samuel 12: We prayed, we wept, but we can't bring him back again. ...But based on what we know to be true (1 John), Joanna and I look forward to joining him. My dad was preceded in death by our mom, Magdalena, married 31 years, in 2004, his sister Ramona in 1990, his father Manuel in 1991, and his mother Genevieve in 2017. He is survived by us daughters, Jennifer and Joanna, by his brother and sister-in-law, Phillip and Cyd Rincon...and some 55 nieces and nephews on both sides, all who knew him as “Uncle Rudy.” The family plans to hold a private Burial service at Visalia Cemetery.
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