2014-01-23 / Obituaries

Jose David Lopez

Jose David Lopez died at home on Sept. 13, 2013 from cancer at the age of 59.

Jose will be remembered fondly in Yosemite National Park for the 40 years that he spent caring for the Park’s wild places. He is missed immensely by his wife of 24 years, Liana, his children Brooks and Nakita, and his grandsons, Emiliano, 4, and Gabriel, 2, who have been asking daily for their “Tata.”

Jose came to Yosemite from Tombstone, Ariz. in 1973. In 1987 he met his wife, Liana, and, after a relentless courtship on Jose’s part, they married in 1989. Their daughter, Nakita, has been following in Jose’s footsteps, working seasonally as a trail worker for various parks. Their son, Brooks, has two young boys whom Jose and Liana have been raising since 2011. Jose continued to care for them lovingly until he passed.

Jose was most in his element in a trail crew camp deep in the wilderness, but he served the Park in many capacities. He started in Yosemite as a Student Conservation Volunteer in 1973 while he studied at Cochise College in Douglas, Ariz. He joined a National Park Service trail crew in 1975, with Jim Snyder as supervisor, and Jim Murphy as cook, and remained lifelong friends with these influential mentors.

In 1982 he became Trail Crew Foreman of an NPS/California Conservation Corps crew, where many of his CCC crew, who thrived under his leadership, went on to have careers with the NPS.

Jose was also an accomplished backcountry skier, EMT, blaster, explosives-use instructor, Ostrander Ski Hut keeper and a Nordic patrolman at Badger Pass. He had a reputation as a very strong skier and the guy to help break trail in the deep snow.

Jose will be remembered for these accomplishments as well as his sense of humor. He brightened everyone’s life that he touched. In the words of his close friend and mentor, Ron Mackie, “Jose was nothing but the best, generous-hearted, positive in his approach to life, inclusive towards all human beings, completely competent in all his work efforts, just a wonderful, special friend.”

Jose is also survived by his sisters Maria Acuna and Nell Bell, brothers Tony, Roy, Keevers, Eddie, and Jimmy Lopez, many in-laws, numerous nieces, nephews and cousins. His sister, Rita Tolway and parents, Miguel and Antonia Lopez, preceded him in death.

A celebration of Jose’s life will be held April 5, 2014.

Donations towards the boys’ college funds can be made to the Lopez Family Account, No. 307015388, at Yosemite Bank.

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Jose Lopez left a legacy of

Jose Lopez left a legacy of inspiration which is far reaching. I first heard about the legend of Jose Lopez in 1979 while working with the CCC and NPS on a Backcountry Trail Crew led by NPS Bill Gorgas and CCC David Muraki. Jose and Yosemite are synonymous. Jose had a reputation for being a very fun trail crew foreman, hard worker and diplomatic leader. Who didn't absolutely LOVE Jose? Even those who did not have the privilege to work directly with him, wish they had. I never worked under Jose's leadership but heard so many stories about this fantastic human being that I looked forward to meeting him one day! ! Here is how I met Jose... He was fast walking, fast talking and approached our crew in Pleasant Valley when he was on a 'hike' to meet up with his buddies from the NPS and meet the CCC trail crew members. At the time, I couldn't comprehend why a trail crew foreman would spend the whole day supervising a crew of young adults only to take his Friday night off to hike over 15 miles to meet up with our crew in Pleasant Valley. He joined us for dinner and drink, but what struck me most about Jose was this - it wasn't all about partying and drinking with his NPS buddies. Jose was genuinely interested in relationships with EVERYONE. Us CCCers were not NPS, yet he took time to get to know each one of us! Jose was skilled at removing stones around people's hearts and building genuine relationships - which was surprising due to the nature of the mission on an NPS Backcountry Trail Crew. In Yosemite on a trail crew, WORK is KING. I never wanted to lose the opportunity to work in one of the most beautiful places this side of Heaven, so I worked as hard as I could just to live for a few short months of my life in a magnificent place with fantastic people! Jose, brought the human element to working in Yosemite. Jose knew how to walk the fine line of managing his work crew so that his crews achieved their work related goals. Yet Jose showed that his priority was also to help others achieve greatness in their smallness. That night around the campfire, Jose hopped tree stumps (our chairs) to talk with each of us one-on-one about the experience we were going to enjoy for the next 3 months in Yosemite's back-country. True to Jose, his conversation was light, fun - yet observant. Was he looking for potential future NPS employees or was he looking to expand the Back-Country Trail Crew family? It could have been both? I hardly knew the man. But what impressed me most is that this man who worked all day long managing his own crew took time to hike well into the evening all those miles just to meet a bunch of inexperienced rookies. I don't believe I saw much of Jose after that evening yet I heard all the amusing and fantastic stories of Jose from all the NPS master storytellers. :-) It was so easy to like Jose. Jose's spirit is infectious. Jose always had an open invitation for any NPS employee to hike out and visit his trail crew. One Friday evening after a long hard work week on the Yosemite Falls Trail, I could have hiked the few miles back to our camp along Yosemite Creek. I ended up accepting Jose's invitation and walked down the Yosemite Falls Trail then hiked up Nevada Falls to Little Yosemite so that I could be with Jose's crew on their Night Hike. That night, on a full moon, Jose led a bunch of us up the trail to the summit of "Cloud's Rest" so that we could witness the unforgettable beauty of God's creation. It was around Midnight when we hit the summit - but as exhausted as I was, Jose's enthusiasm for life, people and God's creation was so energizing! Jose is truly a remarkable person and his legacy will live on in many hearts. God Bless You the Lopez Family! Sue Brown Haynie

I miss my Papa Joe so bad, he

I miss my Papa Joe so bad, he and his wife were the first trail workers to come visit my family at our new home in Wisconsin .During the visit Jose and I both drank to much good whiskey, we both got a talking to from our beautiful wives.I love my father but he is kind of mean.Jose took me under his wing the first mourning we met. In the fifth teen years I have know Jose he was more like a father to me then my own.I wish I could hear you sing "there's a hole in the bucket dear Lizia dear Liza". Your passing is not getting any easier, and being so far from Yosemite makes it even harder. I wish I had the opportunity to be everything to your grand children that you are to me.Everything dies baby that's a fact , but maybe everything that dies one day comes back. I miss you so much, and so do both my wife Mandy my son Roland, and daughter Merced.

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