Joe Ben Arenas

April 16, 1919March 7, 2011

Dad was born April 16, 1919, in Mendota, Ca. and passed away on Monday, March 7, 2011.

He attended Lincoln Elementary and Edison High School in West Fresno.

He joined the United States Army and became a platoon sergeant. He was stationed in the Aleutian Islands and also at the Presidio in San Francisco. He took great pride in his military service, and shared a lot of stories with friends and family.

After the army, he worked for Louie Kee Grocery Store. He then joined some of his friends in a partnership and operated his own grocery store. The first was the Fresno Market which he operated in the late 1940's. Later, he became a partner in Valley Market, which served all the Chinese restaurants located in Fresno delivering to them many of the fresh vegetables, and bulk products used for Chinese cuisine. Dad met and became friends with many of these restaurant owners. His relationship with many of these chefs allowed Dad to become a self-taught cook of various Chinese dishes. On many occasions in earlier years, he would cook a full course Chinese dinner to share with his family.

Dad later worked for the State of California's Employment Development Department (EDD). He was recruited by another friend, Henry Ching. Dad had a long successful career as a Farm Labor Employment Representative, and eventually as the office manager of EDD offices in Merced, Madera, and Mendota, Ca. He retired in 1985.

A mutual friend, Ella Gee (formerly Ella Lum), introduced my dad to our mother. Ella had worked with our mother when they both worked for Lockheed. Dad and Mom were married on December 12, 1948.

Over the years, Dad had some health issues that required surgery. He was one of the first open heart surgery patients in Fresno. At the time, the only hospital equipped to support such a surgery was the original Valley Children's Hospital located on Shields Avenue in Fresno, Ca. Altogether, he had three such surgeries.

He was a member of the Breakfast Optimist Club, he was a board member of the Pinedale Boys and Girls Club, a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8900, and in September of 1999, he was inducted into the Optimist Hall of Fame for his services to youth. This was all another part of his life where he made some friends and had some fun.

He was also a member of the Fah Wah Club dating back to the 1950's. He was probably the only Mexican-American member of this organization. He took great pride in being a club member because he was amongst friends, and had embraced the Chinese and Japanese culture. There were some of his friends who affectionately referred to Dad as "Chinese Joe". Dad never forgot his roots, proud to be an American and proud to be of Mexican ancestry.

Dad wrote a note that he wanted included in his obituary:

"The most important favorite time was the one spent with his grandchildren."

He is survived by Tommie, his wife of 62 years; daughter Pat and her husband Paul; and their children Tomasa, Patrick, and Milena; son Joe and his wife Virginia; and their children Katherine, Joanna, Elaine, Monica, Lisa, Andre, Michelle, and Michael; and his four sisters Mary, Alvina, Lupe, and Margaret.

Visitation will be held at Stephens & Bean Chapel on Sunday, March 13, 2011, from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

A Recitation of the Holy Rosary will be held at Stephens & Bean Chapel, on Sunday, March 13, 2011, at 5:00 p.m.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church, on Monday, March 14, 2011, at 11:00 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, remembrances/donation can be made to either St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church, 5770 N. Maroa Ave., Fresno, Ca 93704-2038; or to Catholic Charities of Fresno, 149 N. Fulton, Fresno, Ca 93701.

Arrangements under the direction of Stephens & Bean Funeral Chapel, Fresno, CA.


  • Visitation Sunday, March 13, 2011
  • Funeral Service Monday, March 14, 2011

Joe Ben Arenas

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Stephens & Bean Chapel

March 14, 2011

Offering our deepest condolences during this difficult time.

Wriley Shelton

March 12, 2011

Those who haven't been there cannot truly understand your sorrow at this time but please remember some of us understand, and all of us deeply care. Joe will be remembered as a great co-worker and friend by many. He always had a word of encouragement with a smile,

Irma Rios

March 11, 2011

Joe will be dearly miss and especially his smile. I will always remember, growing up, when I saw Joe in an apron and in the kitchen I knew something GOOD was going to be prepared!
Our Deepest Condolences to the Arenas Family!

March 11, 2011

Thank you Uncle Joe for your great smile, all the trips to the ranch in Sanger and your love of family. You'll be forever in my heart and thoughts.

Ric Quinonez