PHOTO: Felix Diaz young and older

I don’t really remember when I actually met Mr. Diaz it just seems as though I’ve known him since coming to the High Desert.  Through his stories and actions he demonstrated how selflessness and care of community looks.  I remember having a conversation and he mentioned that he couldn’t meet with me on a certain day because it was a day that he took a small group of kids to dinner.  As I came to learn, this was an annual event where he at his own expense would take a small group of kids to an upscale restaurant where they had to dress up.  He told me that for some this was the only time they got to go out to a nice dinner and he wanted them to know what that felt like and how to handle themselves in such an atmosphere. These are the types of things he did when no one was looking…selflessness.    He embodied compassion and challenge, he challenged us to be better and lead with compassion.  He was not shy in addressing his opinions, convictions and beliefs.  I respected his ability to stand firm on his beliefs despite opposition or criticism.

If Mr. Diaz saw a need, he most often found a resolve.  He mentored, inspired and encouraged so many of us, young, old and in-between to be problem solvers.  His laughter and joy of community was infectious as was his commitment to serve community.  Mr. Diaz served on many local & San Bernardino County Boards including, Victor Valley High School District Board, Hispanic Chamber, Victor Valley Museum  Board, Victorville Youth Accountability Board and SBC Fair Board.   In recent years, he served as a Community Liaison for San Bernardino County 1st District Supervisor Robert Lovingood. 

Mr. Diaz was a proud Army Veteran and took great pride in grooming young Cadets.  He founded the American G.I. Forum Casillas/Rodrigues High Desert Chapter.  The organization provided scholarships to High Desert youth and honored local Veterans. He is responsible for the Old Town Victorville Veterans Memorial located on Seventh Street which was erected in 1996.    I witnessed him on many Veterans and Memorial Days and various special events standing very proud, paying tribute to those who served and had ultimately given all. 

It was Mr. Diaz that shared his love of Mariachi Music and got me hooked.  He had such a joy for Mariachi Music and he loved singing and sharing this cultural experience with the community.  During the early 2000’s he was the driving force that produced along with the American G.I. Forum, Casillas/Rodriguez High Desert Chapter a series of Mariachi Concerts.   Over the years as volunteers and support started to fall off in 2015 the Dreamers, Visionaries & Leaders (DVL) Project decided to honor him as a DVL Lifetime Achievement Honoree and the Felix Diaz Mariachi Festival was established.

I’ve heard that “the true measure of a man is not how he behaves in moments  of comfort and convenience but how he stands at times of controversy and challenges”  Mr. Felix Diaz has left his imprint on an entire community and his touch, his imprint is diverse and inclusive.  He was a true leader who led with integrity, honesty, optimism, compassion and love.  His legacy is rich!

As my act of honor and tribute, I vow to continue to cherish and uplift his legacy and the love of his life, Ms. Margaret Diaz.