Our dad, Andrew “Andy” Alba was born in Simi Valley, California on September 20, 1938. He passed, surrounded by love, on March 8, 2020. Dad was the 12th of 13 siblings made up of eight brothers and five sisters. His beloved parents were Kinteen (Papá) and Carmen (Mamá) Alba, who were both born in Mexico and came to the United States as children. The Alba home was near Los Angeles and First Street in Simi Valley, where the family worked together in the walnut orchards. Mamá and Papá moved the family to Pacoima circa 1942 where they had a modest home on Van Nuys Blvd. near Ralston. Dad and his family moved back and forth between Simi Valley and Pacoima for many years to work in the walnut orchards seasonally and then return to Pacoima during the off-season.
Dad loved sharing his memories growing up in Simi Valley. Walnut harvesting was seasonal work so dad and his siblings slept in tents, hunted squirrels, played marbles, and had cherry tomato fights. While there was some time for fun, walnut picking was hard work for the family, but especially for dad who was a child at the time. Dad used to share with us, “those times taught me to work hard”, and for his entire life he had a work ethic second to none. At age 14, dad started driving trucks and was a proud union member. He was so young when he started driving, he had to place burlap sacks on the seat to be able to see the road. Dad saved his money and through his strong work ethic and determination, eventually founded his own landscape boulder business, AC Alba Landscape Boulders, which he owned until his retirement.
Dad was proud to be an American and also proud to be an American of Mexican descent. An American flag could always be seen flying in his front yard. Dad was honored to serve in the National Guard and in the US Army. He grew up with older brothers who were in the military and served in World War II and Korea. He was especially proud of his brother Mike, who was a Lt. Colonel in the US Air Force and served in the Pentagon.
Above all else, dad loved his family! He saw it as his mission in life to provide for and protect his family. Dad met our mom, Maria Carrillo, at the wedding of a mutual friend. They married in 1960, settled in the city of San Fernando, and they had two daughters, Julie (David) Gonzales, and Irene aka Rini (Richard) Ramos. Dad moved his family from San Fernando to Lake View Terrace in 1972 where he saw an opportunity to have a large property where he and mom could raise their girls with horses, a cow, chickens, roosters, pigs, geese, turkeys, cats and dogs. Dad’s trusty steed, Rusty, faithfully brought him safely home from his visits to the local “watering hole”, The Corral. Dad and mom worked hard to ensure that we wanted for nothing. They also shared in caring for dad’s nieces and nephews, who lived with us as brothers and sisters more than as cousins. No one in the Alba home was spared from contributing to the running of such a large property and numerous pets and animals. Everyone had chores and responsibilities! This was a daily ritual, whether waking up at 6:00 am, including the weekends, or after school, all the kids pitched in to feed the animals, clean the corrals, pig pens, chicken coops, pull weeds, rake leaves, water plants, put the tools away and roll the water hoses neatly. Once the animals and yard were taken care of, the household chores began. Needless to say, dad taught everyone under his roof how to put in an honest day’s work.
Dad also valued education and supported and encouraged mom, us, and his grandchildren to attend college. It made him very proud to know that his family received a higher education that provided us opportunities he didn’t have himself. His life was filled with backbreaking work, and he always said he wanted us to work with our heads rather than our backs. Dad heartened us to read and learn from every experience so we could be knowledgeable and prepared for any task.
Having grown up around the seasonal harvest of So Cal, dad grew fond of growing orange trees, corn, peach trees, lemon trees, nopales, different types of chilies, tomatoes, zucchini, lettuce and so much more. He made fresh salsa from his garden and always made sure to take some to our Tia Irene Verdugo, who he loved as a second mom. He would clean and cut cactus, put it in baggies and make his deliveries to whoever was being visited that day. Dad’s family and friends could always expect a visit, especially if they were ill, and he always made sure to take gifts from his garden.
Aside from his gardening, dad was well-known for his amazing wood-work. Born after the Great Depression he knew how to recycle before recycling was popular. What most people would see as a random piece of wood or log, dad saw as art. He would spend hours creating candle holders, lamps, tables, salt and pepper shakers, trays, butcher blocks, walking canes, shelves, bed frames, wine racks…you name it… from wood. Any left-over wood was neatly placed in piles for firewood, always having enough on hand for his family and he made sure Julie and Rini got first dibs from the pile.
Anyone who knew our dad knows that he was a very strong man, mentally and physically. He held strict rules for his household and was not afraid to dish out discipline if he felt it necessary. However, with the birth of his grandchildren, Robert Gonzales, Daniel Gonzales, Michelle Gonzales, Katrina Ramos, and Antonio Ramos, his tough exterior began to soften, and started to match the marshmallow interior he always had. He loved playing on the floor with this grandchildren, teaching them to swim by way of turning them into human torpedoes and throwing them across the pool, giving them rides on his tractors, taking cuddly naps with them, and sitting in front of the fireplace to watch TV. If that didn’t completely melt his outer armor, upon the arrival of his great-grandchildren, Ariana Canizalez, David Gonzales, Mikaela Canizalez, and Alba Gonzales, the tough guy was utterly conquered.
Dad leaves behind many lessons and values that will be carried on by his daughters, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and friends and family who had the benefit of receiving his teachings. He also enjoyed sharing his life lessons with his two sons-in-law, David Gonzales (in heaven) and Richard Ramos. He loved David and Richard and treated them as if they were his sons. Dad’s wisdom and lessons cannot be summed up into a few words, but the most outstanding are that dad believed in and modeled hard work, pride in his heritage, the courage to stand up for one’s beliefs, being an asset to the community, and never giving up!
Dad will forever be missed, but he will live on in our hearts and souls. We will always carry his memory and life lessons, and we will strive to live the lives he hoped for us.
We are thankful to all his family and friends who visited and called him. He was surrounded by love as his wife (former), daughters, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and son-in-law, who remained by his side until he was called home. Due to the current health concerns, all services have been cancelled by the archdiocese. Only immediate family is allowed to attend the burial. Please view and sign his obituary guest book on the Mission Hills Catholic Mortuary website. Thank you for your love and prayers.