When I was asked to write a biography on my younger brother, I thought it would be difficult to summarize a life in a short letter. It has become that much more difficult for a man that has left such an impact on his family and community.
Rafael Torres Jr. could have filled a library with the stories of his adventures, accomplishments, goals, challenges and ultimate triumph.
Born on May 13, 1963 in Tototlán Jalisco, Mexico, Rafailito was the second of seven children of Margarita and Rafael Torres. In 1971, our parents immigrated to the United States with Rafailito and four sisters. Two younger siblings, Jesus and Marisol, would follow soon after. The Torres family began in a humble home that lacked in luxury but was rich in unity, laughter and love for one another.
Rafael was a carefree and spirited child who would play “trompos” and marbles. As a seven year old Rafael worked selling chicharrónes and alongside with his family they cleaned pigpens and during the holidays would sell their mom’s homemade candies. It became clear at a young age that Rafael had a strong work ethic and had a developed sense for business. When Rafael was 12 years old he began working at the San Fernando Swap Meet, loading and unloading trucks of the merchants and distributing flyers for different businesses. As a family our parents would gather us, after school, to collect recyclable material and clean offices from the surrounding businesses in the neighborhood. The extra work instilled in us the importance of working together as a family. For Rafael it went on to become the foundation of his entrepreneurial spirit and the way he treated those around him.
Rafael persevered through many health obstacles throughout his life, at the age of 17 he underwent open heart surgery due to rheumatic fever. However, he proved that there was no obstacle too great to deter him from achieving his goals.
Rafael believed education was important and he never stopped attending school, even turning to home-schooling when his health declined. As a result, Rafael attended Pacoima Elementary School, San Fernando Junior High and graduated from San Fernando High School. While attending LA Valley College, he continued to make ends meet holding a variety of jobs that ranged from Aerospace manufacturing to department stores.
In 1981 he met a beautiful young woman, Irma Teresa Montes, who became the love of his life and later married her in 1986. Thirty years later, they have three magnificent sons, Rafael Torres III, Danny Torres and Jose Torres. Most recently, they have welcomed two daughter – in – laws, 3 granddaughters and 2 grandsons to their family.
Rafael always envisioned creating a fruitful and treasured family business that would carry his father’s name for generations to come. In the summer of 1987, he would begin that journey, from the ground up, with the Carniceria Torres. Along with the support of his family, he purchased the land in which the home of his parents stood to build what is now known as the Casa Torres Restaurant and Plaza. He continued his journey with the purchase of the mission land which would become the headquarters of his business empire, Casa Torres Banquet Hall. Rafael’s creative passion and drive led him further to build what he called “the jewel of the Northeast Valley”, Palacio Torres. This event space became his pride and joy, not just for himself but what he felt his community deserved. Throughout all of his ventures he had his family along with him working side by side, hombro a hombro, mano a mano, Jesus, Lourdes, Rosa, Paty, Chayo, Marisol, Mom and Dad, his children, Rafael, Danny, and Jose, and wife, Teresa.
It all began with the dream of one small boy and will continue with a legacy built upon a foundation of hard work, humility and family.
Rafael Torres died at the age of 53 on December 10, 2016. He leaves a loving family behind; his wife, three sons, two daughter-in-laws, five grandchildren, his daughter Nora, Mom, Dad, five sisters, one brother, and 18 nieces and nephews as well our adopted family of staff and fellow community members.
A family and home that has come to be known as “Casa Torres”.
Rafael’s funeral mass will take place on Friday, December 16, 2016, at 9:00am at San Fernando Mission Rey Chapel, 11160 Stanwood Avenue, Mission Hills, California 91345. Attendees are asked to please use the Old Cemetery entrance for access to the chapel.
Please take special note that the Torres Family requests that no photography or video recording take place during any of the memorial services out of respect to the loving memory of Rafael.