Acjachemen Son, Harvard Graduate
September 3rd, 1954 - August 19th, 2016
John Joseph Romero, Jr. left our world on August 19th, 2016 in Richland, Washington at the age of 61.
John is survived by his mother Jeanette McGregor of Dana Point, California, beloved wife Gloria Romero of Richland, Washington, son Anthony of Reno, Nevada, daughter Marie of Richland, Washington, sisters Eilleen Wilson of Anaheim, California, Kelly Webber of Murrieta, California and a large extended family. He is preceded in death by his father, John Joseph Romero, Sr. of San Juan Capistrano, and his brother, Robert Banda of Dana Point, California.
John was an exceptional human being. He was born to John and Jeanette Romero on September 3, 1954 at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach, California. Being the first grandchild on his mother’s and father’s side, he was cherished from birth. For the first 12 years of his life, he lived with his mother and maternal great-grandparents. It was John’s great-grandmother, “Nana” that got him up for school and fed him every day while his mother worked full-time. John, Sr. was away serving in the Korean War and then died of cancer 1958. The Romero clan, as John called them, included his Grandmother Beta, Grandfather Sam and 9 uncles, all stepped in to help raise him. John’s Uncle Lefty would sit with him every day and watch cartoons, including playing “Red Light-Green Light” on the Cartoon Express show with Engineer Bill. At the age of 5, his Uncle Snake took him to Los Angeles to be on the show and meet his childhood favorite, Engineer Bill in person.
Although he suffered from severe asthma as a child, John excelled in school and athletics. He attended San Clemente High School and at the age 15, John won the gold medal in the 1968 AAU Junior Olympics National Championship for weightlifting, in his age bracket. The US Olympic wrestling team sought out John, but he wanted to return home. Throughout his high school career, he earned 9 varsity letters, was CIF Champion for wrestling, and was a fierce tackle on the football team. John was proud to be a Triton and in 1972, he was named “Triton of the Year”. He attributed his athletic success to his uncles and three special coaches: Head Coach Tom Eads, Jack Bohan, and David Neidhardt, who John believed, went out of their way to help him grow as a person and an athlete. It was his Uncle Tony and Uncle Joe who taught him perseverance. During one wrestling tournament, John dislocated his shoulder early on and took a quick injury break off to the side where he was met by his two uncles who had just one comment: “You can’t win if you don’t wrestle.” John turned around re-entered the match and continued on in the tournament to take 2nd place overall. He went on to graduate from SCHS and was accepted to Harvard University on a full academic scholarship. Not only was he San Clemente High School's first student to attend Harvard, he was San Juan Capistrano’s first, and the first from the Acjachemen Nation. John was incredibly honored and proud to hold those titles. He graduated from Harvard University with a Bachelors of Science degree in Economics in 1976. He left Harvard with more than a degree, he left with life-long friends: Dr. Philippe Weintraub, Dr. Robert Wagman, Dr. James Feldman, Dr. James Reining. These four friends, his band of brothers, helped him fight his foe, cancer, until he was ready to not give up, but join his extended family with the Lord.
After graduating Harvard, John returned to Capistrano, helped his sister, Eilleen raise her son, Robbie and accepted a job with Bechtel, one of the most respected engineering, construction, and project management companies in the world. While at Bechtel, he met and married his wife, Gloria Morada.
Side by side, the two traveled the states and abroad for Bechtel; starting in California, then Arkansas, followed by Texas, Argentina-Brazil, Nevada, and finally settling in Washington. It was in Arkansas, that John and Gloria started their family with the arrival of son, Anthony Joseph in 1989, followed by daughter, Marie Teresa in 1990. John adored his children and was extremely proud of their accomplishments. Anthony, a graduate from University of Nevada, Reno and Marie, a graduate from Wellesley College, carry on John's legacy of higher education, as they both continue to further their education. Graduating from Harvard, raising a family and working for Bechtel for 39 ½ years, were John’s biggest accomplishments. He was most proud of his family, but just as important to him were his friends that he made starting in elementary, middle, and high school. He was especially thankful for his best man, Bob Ferrell and his dear friends in Houston, particularly his best friends Vicky Norvick and Sam Nuzzo.
If you ever met John, you certainly remembered him, but if you knew him, you loved him. John had so many unique qualities that set him apart from most people; his incredible sense of humor for one and his unparalleled work ethic for another. But what was most exceptional about him was his ability to care about others. If you were family or a friend, you were on “the list.” Before Facebook, there was John’s list. The list of names he would call regularly, no matter where he was living, to check in, say hi, and let you know he cared about you. The unbelievable thing about “the list” was the number of names on it. John worked countless hours a week, week in and week out, and yet, if you were on the list, your phone would ring. Just keeping up with his family would have been a chore for any regular person, but John not only kept in touch with 60+ family members, he had numerous friends that he kept in close contact with over his entire lifetime...and he always had time when we would call him. Over the years, he had his ups and downs with his mother, but he never stopped loving her and he wanted her to know that right up until his last breath. No doubt, the Lord made him a big man to hold his big heart. He was the gentle giant that his family and friends counted on to always be there, if not in person, then on the other end of the phone. We love you, we miss you, rest now.
A Rosary is scheduled for Wednesday, September 7th at 7pm at Mission San Juan Capistrano, Serra Chapel with a native reception to follow at Acjachemen Tribal Hall, 31411-A La Matanza, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675. The funeral is planned for Thursday, September 8th, 2016 at 10am at Mission Basilica, San Juan Capistrano, California, with gravesite services immediately following at Old Mission Cemetery and reception to follow at the El Adobe Restaurant. All are welcome to attend and celebrate John’s life. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to John’s tribe: Juaneño Band of Mission Indians, Acjachemen Nation at 31411-A La Matanza Street, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675. Condolences can be sent to www.legacy.com. The family would like to thank the countless number of medical staff that helped John fight his foe and his brother-in law, Bob for being there for him.
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The Juaneño Band of Mission Indians, Acjachemen Nation are the original inhabitants of the lands that ultimately became the County of Orange, as well as parts of San Diego, Los Angeles, and Riverside Counties. The Tribe provided the original manpower for the construction of some of the earliest key landmarks in Orange County, including the Mission San Juan Capistrano. While the American Colonies were being founded on the East Coast, the Acjachemen Indians were conscripted to build the mission here on the West Coast. We identified ourselves as Acjachemen, but to the Spaniards who first came to our homeland, our souls were apportioned by the jurisdiction of the missions, hence our Spanish name "Juaneños" coming from the Mission at San Juan Capistrano.
The Juaneño Band of Mission Indians, Acjachemen Nation is a State-recognized Native American Indian Tribe possessed of inherent sovereign attributes and powers, exercising jurisdiction over its ancestral homelands and territory.
The Juaneño Band of Mission Indians, Acjachemen Nation is governed by the Tribal Council and is led by Tribal Chairwoman, Teresa M. Romero. The tribal citizenship of our great nation is numbered at 1,941 blood descendants, verified through certified genealogist, who trace individual lineage to Acjachemen village ancestors. The Acjachemen citizenship is diversified by representation through our many tribal committees, community activities, and tribal gatherings. As the ancient inhabitants of our defined territory, we are extremely proud and protective of our heritage, our people, and the many relationships we call our friends.
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