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Baggerley Funeral Home

930 South Broadway, Edmond, OK

OBITUARY

Julian "Pepe" Jose Gonzalez

May 6, 1934April 19, 2015
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Pepe went to be with his Lord on April 19th, 2015. Everyone knew him as Pepe, the energetic, cheerful, and optimistic owner of Pepe’s Mexican restaurant on Broadway in Edmond.

Pepe was born in Chiclayo, Peru, to Candida Fernandez Gonzalez and Jose Gonzalez. He was born into a family of means that operated a goat ranch maintaining 2,000 goats and exporting goat leather to the US for glove production. At the tender age of 4, Pepe encountered a reversal of fortune, the experience of which, led him to be a self-made man. His father passed away from appendicitis, instantly requiring him to become the man of the house. Pepe was always an entrepreneur at heart. When he couldn’t get a job, he invented one: buying, cleaning and selling glass bottles and used cardboard boxes and newspapers. At age 8, he was completely self-sufficient as his mother had to take a job as a full time house servant living 6 days a week away from her son. He cheerfully took on this responsibility keeping up with his chores at home and school until, as a teenager, he developed a passion for hunting. It was a means of recreation and ability to provide meat for his family. His favorite game was dove and ducks. He would routinely wake up at 4am and row a boat half a mile across a lake to be in position to hunt. He could only afford an old 16 gauge single shot shotgun but was still able to bring home meat from his hunting outings. He was so consumed with spending all his time hunting instead of studying that he failed the 2nd year of high school. His mother, knowing the value of education, decided to teach him a lesson by requiring him to spend 1 year away from school in the work force. The only job he qualified for was making bricks with his hands and manual labor at a soap factory. He walked to work barefoot carrying his shoes to economize wear and tear of the sole of his shoes. Once returning to school, this hard labor motivated Pepe to earn the highest grades in any class or subject he studied, even though most of his studies were by the light of a kerosene lamp. Although he yearned to continue his education in college after graduating high school, his financial constraints required him to work full time.

Pepe then moved to the big city of Lima, Peru believing opportunities would be more plentiful. However, Lima had such a high unemployment rate in the early 1950’s, most job openings garnered 100+ applicants. Pepe struggled to find work, requiring him to invest the little money he had to fill a suitcase with week old loaves of bread to live off of. He encountered many adversities in Lima including having all his belongings stolen from the boarding house where he lived. When he reported the theft, the police officer told him this town was too rough and to return to his home town.

These adversities motivated him to conquer any challenge he encountered, persevering against all odds to successfully obtain employment at a fine men’s clothing store. Here he honed his salesmanship skills, to the extent of impressing an employment officer from Faucet Aviation. A gentleman shopper desiring the highest quality socks, refused the best pair the store had available because it wasn’t expensive enough. Pepe was savy and offered a discontinued bargain basement pair at the high price the gentleman wanted to pay, leaving his customer satisfied believing he had the most exclusive pair of socks in town. The employment officer from Faucet, observed this transaction and offered Pepe employment as a flight dispatcher for Faucet Airlines, a coveted job in Lima, Peru. During his 6 year tenure at Faucet Aviation, multiple times he was offered the opportunity to become a pilot. Due to the poor safety record of the early aviation industry, Pepe turned down these offers.

In 1959, Pepe decided to seek the American dream in the United State of America. Before leaving Peru, he secured his mother’s financial well-being by building 4 rental houses whose rent provided his mother’s income. Pepe landed in Miami and traveled by bus towards Salt Lake City, Utah to attend college. He stopped in Bethany, Oklahoma to visit his childhood friend, Normando Lint. Normando convinced him to stay longer than Pepe had planned. Running low on funds, Normando introduced Pepe to Luis Alvarado, the owner of El Charrito Mexican restaurants, who provided him with employment at the downtown El Charrito, even though he didn’t speak English. Incidentally, his English was so poor, the only menu item he could order was a hamburger. After 2-weeks of eating hamburgers, he finally learned how to order other menu items.

While working, Pepe simultaneously pursued a degree in civil engineering at Central State College, carrying 18 hours of college credit per semester while working 60 hours a week. After 1 year, exhaustion caught up with him and he almost lost his life falling asleep commuting from Central State College in Edmond to work in Downtown Okc. He decided to pause his college studies, and took on more responsibilities at his job in El Charrito. He quickly excelled at learning all restaurant positions and was promoted to assistant manager in 2 short years. Here he met his future bride to be, Taide Alvarado, the niece of the Luis Alvarado. Taide, a respectful, family oriented blond haired, green eyed, natural beauty, would visit her uncle and work at El Charrito during the summer. They maintained a long distance romance for two years and were married in 1964. A few years later Pepe and Taide were blessed with 2 sons: Fernando and Julian, and daughter Virginia.

In 1965 Luis Alvarado decided to invest in opening a restaurant in the first indoor shopping mall in Oklahoma City, Shepherd Mall. El Charrito board members unanimously voted to have Pepe run this significant investment. Here, Pepe innovated numerous operating procedures and equipment which significantly reduced operating costs. Pepe also refined recipes increasing the quality and flavor of the food they served. After 21 years of service to El Charrito/El Chico Corporation, Pepe and his partner, Manuel Tello, opened Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant in 1981. At the time it was only the 2nd Mexican restaurant in Edmond. Pepe’s quickly became the mainstay for Mexican Food dining in Edmond and surrounding areas. In 1987 Pepe and his partner opened a 2nd restaurant, Laredo’s Mexican Restaurant in Oklahoma City. Laredo’s moved to a new location and renamed, Casa de los Milgros in Oklahoma City.

Pepe was driven and dedicated to his businesses but was also dedicated to his family. He instilled a love of nature and God’s creation through fishing every Sunday, camping, hunting, and gardening. Pepe raised his children with humility, respect, integrity, a high work ethic, and a can do attitude. Although Pepe wasn’t able to finish his college degree, he made certain all his children went to college and earned a bachelor’s degrees. Pepe was a devout Christian, raising his 3 children catholic. Pepe enjoyed providing fellowship, camaraderie and a service for families to gather together at Pepe’s restaurant after church on Sunday. Pepe also continued financially supporting his mother, up until she passed in 1985.

Pepe was also dedicated to his extended family, the employees and customers of Pepe’s restaurant. Throughout Pepe’s career his customers quickly became friends, and his friends quickly became family. Generations of families grew up with him. In his business, he was also driven by a purpose to provide employment where individuals could have an opportunity to earn a living and support their families. Many of his employees were unofficially adopted children to him.

Pepe never forgot his humble beginning and strove to provide opportunity to those less fortunate. When someone showed up hungry at his restaurant and didn’t have the means to purchase a meal, Pepe would feed them remembering as a child what it was like to be hungry.

Pepe was preceded in death by his mother Candida, father Jose, brother, Fernando and aunt Patrocinia, and uncle Donaciano.

Pepe is survived by his wife of 51 years, Taide Gonzalez; son, Fernando Gonzalez and wife, Susan Gonzalez, granddaughter Alicia Gonzalez of Edmond, son, Julian Gonzalez, Jr of Oklahoma City, daughter, Virginia Gonzalez Green, her husband Zachary W. Green; and grandsons, Devan and Vincent Green of San Jose, California, his cousin; Gladys Galvez of Lima, Peru, and his beloved dog, Princess. Pepe is also survived by countless friends that he made over his 60 years in Oklahoma.

Open visitation will be Thursday at 9am - 8pm and Friday beginning 9am at Baggerley Funeral Home Chapel in Edmond, followed by a Rosary Service at 7pm. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10am, Saturday, April 25th at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Edmond.

Services

  • Open Visitation

    Friday, April 24, 2015

  • Rosary

    Friday, April 24, 2015

  • Mass of Christian Burial

    Saturday, April 25, 2015

Memories

Julian "Pepe" Jose Gonzalez

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Mark Robins

July 27, 2015

Pepe hired me as a busboy at the Shepherd Mall Store in 1965. I loved the work and both of my younger brothers worked there also. He will be missed.

Katie Messick

July 21, 2015

Rest in Peace Pepe!! I have many fond memories in your restaurant, growing up with family in there, you always came greeting us with huge smiles! Prayers to your family during this difficult time.

Kaye Agee

May 31, 2015

Prayers go out to Pepe;s family.....We always enjoyed going to the restaurant and had family and friends meet us there for the great food.

Laurie Silva (née Kump)

May 20, 2015

Pepe gave me my first job when I was in high school. He was the most wonderful, animated, interesting, colorful man. He knew so much about so many things and I learned a lot from him. He had an amazing life, thank you for sharing his story. He was a true self-made man with a heart of gold, and I am so thankful to have known him. I am so sorry for your loss. You have my most heartfelt condolences.

May 19, 2015

Deseo más sincero pésame a la familia. Pueden tener comodidad y apoyo durante estos momentos difíciles y que Dios te consuele a través de su palabra. (Apocalipsis 21:3-5)

May 14, 2015

My sympathy goes out to family and friends of the Gonzalez family, may you have some comfort from rembering the lif e he lead with you.

May 11, 2015

My ccondolences to the Gonzael family may your family find comfort in Gods word

May 5, 2015

He [God] has set a day in which he purposes to judge the inhabited earth in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and he has furnished a guaranteeto all men in that he has resurrected him from the dead.

Judy Mullins

May 3, 2015

Just saw this. Loved going into the restaurant where he would greet us like he knew us forever. Thank you for his story. Amazing. So sorry for your loss. I'm sure you are very proud to be his family

Kay Cointepas

May 2, 2015

I had moved to Edmond and had very young children. I had been a fan of El Chico in Shreveport Louisiana since I was 10 years old. When I heard of Pepe's opening, my children and I were there within the first week. Eating there became at least a weekly ritual through my children's growing up years. Even when my youngest daughter graduated from college, Pepe's was still her favorite restaurant. Pepe was always there. He was a presence acutely remembered as being a kind, humble man. My children and I have returned through the years with many deeply fond memories of him and our lives visiting "Pepe's"! Thank you for the memories!!

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY

Pepe in Chiclayo, Peru (1952).

FROM THE FAMILY

Faucet Aviation airplan dispatchers. Lima, Peru, (late 1950s).

FROM THE FAMILY

Faucet employees.

FROM THE FAMILY

Faucet employees.

FROM THE FAMILY

Pepe and Taide before marriage picnic at Lake Carlblackwell (1960).

FROM THE FAMILY

Pepe in Bethany (early 1960s).

FROM THE FAMILY

Limited out on quail in western Oklahoma (early 1960s).

FROM THE FAMILY

Swimming at Lake Carlblackwell (1960).

FROM THE FAMILY

Pepe dove hunting in western Oklahoma (1960s).