Plaza Huanusco

FAMILIA GUERRERO

Elizabeth, Abran, Raudel Sr., Monica, Julieta, Raudel Guerrero.

From the SAN GABRIEL VALLEY TRIBUNE

Tuesday, July 1, 2008 www.sgvtribune.com

Longtime restaurateur remembered

by Brian Day

Staff Writer

A beloved West Covina restaurateur who died in a car crash last week will be buried Wednesday.

Born in Mexican, Raudel Guerrero 57, was the owner of the Mariposa Inn restaurant for the past 19 years, said his wife, Julieta Guerrero.

"He was very proud that he had come to the United States in search of the American Dream," she said.

Guerrero, who lived in Chino, died after his van crashed into a big rig about 3:40a.m. Thursday on Reservoir Street near Philadelphia Avenue in Pomona said Pomona police Cpl. Bill Knight.

"He was a very loving and giving person," said Julieta Guerrero, adding that her husband was well-known and well-liked in the area.

Raudel began working at the Mariposa Inn as a waiter in 1972, family members said.

Over the years, he moved up to assistant manager, manager and eventually owner in 1989. Prior to that, he owned a fast-food restaurant in the San Fernando Valley.

His wife said the family would never consider closing the restaurant.

"He loved it. It was his life," she said. "He dedicated his life to that restaurant and we want to keep in going"

The restaurant will close early Tuesday at 8 p.m. for a Rosary service, Julieta said, and will remain closed all day Wednesday in honor of Raudel.

Raudel often spent more time at the restaurant than he did at home, she added.

Patrons gathered at the Mariposa Inn Monday said Raudel befriended just about everyone who entered his restaurant.

"He's one of the best business owners in the area," said Greg Shaw, a patron. "He treated everyone like family. I don't know what else to say. He's exceptional."

Shaw added that Raudel was a Dodgers fan, and would often talk baseball with him.

"He was always happy," said another patron, Angel Gonzalez. "This is what kept him happy. Being here."

Dacia Suchite of Pomona said Raudel made her feel like family.

His favorite music was Tamborazo and his favorite singer was Antonio Aguilar, who was from Raudel's hometown of Zacatecas, Mexico.

Friends said they plan to have a Tamborazo band play at Raudel's funeral.

"He was a very simple man," Julieta said. "He never forgot his background."

Gonzalez and Suchite said they will be visiting the restaurant every day for a while to support the family.

Several customers said they've  been frequenting the restaurant for decades because of Raudel's personality.

Julieta described Raudel as an excellent father to their four children and would often volunteer his restaurant to help community organizations.

The crash occurred while Raudel was on his way home from work, Julieta said.

He had just given a busboy from the restaurant a ride home and was southbound on Reservoir Street when he fell asleep at the wheel, crashing into a big rig, family members and Knight said.

Julieta said officials told her Raudel died instantly and without suffering.

Rosary is scheduled for today at 7p.m at St. Elizabeth Seton Church in Rowland Heights, 1835 Larkvane Road, Julieta said. A funeral service will be held at the same church Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.

Raudel is survived by his wife, four adult children and three grandchildren.

"We're going to miss him," Angel Gonzalez said, "but he's in a better place. He needed a rest. He never rested in life. Now he can rest."