Herverto "Al" Solano Chavez - aka "Crazy Horse", "The Goat" - father, grandfather, and great-grandfather passed away peacefully to be reunited with his late wife, Emma Chavez, on October 17th after a brief illness. Al was born the son of Fidencio and Epifania Solano Chavez in Brawley, California on November 8, 1929.
When remembering their father, Al's children can recall the early morning drives north to Clear Lake on old Highway 99 through the San Joaquin Valley. He would tell stories of his youth following the picking season, swimming in the irrigation canals to bathe, and listening to the trains whistle and rumble long into the night.
As a young man, he raised and fattened cows and goats to eventually sell for a good and fair profit. Those profits enabled him at the age of 15 to purchase a home in Norwalk where his family lived for many years. At Excelsior High School, he played on the basketball team, but found one of his true passions in playing the trumpet and trombone with the school band. He followed his passion by playing with noted bandleaders, playing as a studio musician and eventually forming his own band.
It was at a gig on July 4, 1949 in Long Beach, California when he spotted a demure, brown-eyed, brunette beauty, Emma Sedano. Al said, once he set eyes on her he was never going to let her out of his sight; he knew she was "the one", and they married on December 2, 1950. Al started his construction career after he realized that he wouldn't be able to manage raising a family on a musician's salary. In rapid succession they gave life and love to Albert, James, and twins Kathryn and Ronald, and expanded a modest 2-bedroom house into a beautiful 4-bedroom home in Long Beach.
Al acquired his nickname "Crazy Horse" amongst the construction community for his tenacity and no-nonsense nature. His hard work and dedication to his craft quickly earned him respect; he was recognized as a legend in the paving industry. Al's construction successes include paving the parking lot at Dodger Stadium, the 405 Freeway, and the lagoons at Busch Gardens in Van Nuys.
Al and Emma moved to Oceanside in 1993. Al officially retired in 1995, but from time to time was called upon to provide his vast experience for Excel Paving and his son James's construction company. In retirement, Al rekindled his music passion by playing trombone for the Coastal Communities Concert Band and a New Orleans style jazz band entertaining Padres fans during breaks in the action on the field.
Al's beloved Emma was welcomed into the arms of the Lord on February 2, 2013, after bravely enduring Lou Gehrig's disease. Al held her in his heart, mind and soul until his own passing.
Dad's wisdom, anecdotes, and instructions on life will be cherished by his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren: Albert, his wife, Sheila, and daughter Emily; James, his former wife, Mary, and children, James Jr., his wife Ambar and child Amalia, Nicole, her husband Juan Tapia and an expected baby girl, Christina and Felix; Kathy, her husband Michael Drolet and children, Rachel, her husband, James Fisher, and Ben; Ron and his wife Tina.
A Mass in celebration of Al 's life will be held on his birthday, Thursday, November 8th at 1 p.m., at Old Mission San Luis Rey, Oceanside, California with a reception to follow.
Published in Gazette Newspapers from Nov. 2 to Nov. 8, 2018.