Friend and neighbor Paco Vela passed away in December. While living in Placerita Canyon he was a pioneer – a stay at home dad who spent hours at Newhall Elementary school as a horseback riding Zero the Hero teaching the kids mathematics.
He also started a theater program with another dad – Jim Sudik, and gave the kids not only something to look forward to after school but a home away from home. Each year the students would perform in an original bilingual Christmas Carol in which the English speaking students would recite their lines in Spanish and the English language learners would perform in English.
He created a garden in the center of the schoolyard and children not only learned about gardening but enjoying the fruits of their labor. Paco could be found at every PTA event and was honored with their Founder’s Award.
On Halloween, Paco would build a big bonfire, prepare a steaming pot of chili and take the neighbor kids on an old fashioned hayride throughout the backroads of Placerita Canyon.
He taught children in the community how to love and respect horses. He was our own Horse Whisperer – a master in the Parelli style of horse training.
Father, husband, actor, magician, chef, cowboy and friend, he would have celebrated his 63rd birthday last month.