May 5, 2006

Casa de Salud Teen Center to be Renamed in Honor of Civic Leader Manuel Portillo

The Casa de Salud Teen Center will be rededicated on Saturday, May 6, 2006 as the Manuel Portillo Youth Center. The ceremony will take place at 11:00 a.m. at 1408 Harding Avenue in National City.

Manuel Portillo was born on August 22, 1920 in National City and is the oldest of sixteen children. He began working at the age of eleven, before joining the Civilian Conservation Corps at the age of 17. At 19, he met his future wife, Gloria Contreras, and they were married three years later on September 6, 1942. Thirty days later he was drafted into the Army and sent overseas at the height of World War II. After serving his country for three years, he was honorably discharged on November 5, 1945, receiving 4 Bronze Service Stars.

As a youth, Mr. Portillo learned to box, boxing for clubs such as the San Diego Boxing Club and the Kiwanis Club. He took up boxing again in the Army and won 39 straight matches. After the Army, he got a full time job during the day and a part time night job as a Recreation Aide at the Casa De Salud Recreation Center in Old Town National City. He taught young adults how to play basketball and baseball and he managed several girls softball teams. The Navy helped build a boxing ring at Casa de Salud and Mr. Portillo taught neighborhood boys how to box.

In 1948, he co-founded the Casa Men’s Club for men 21 years of age and older and is now an honorary member. He has been retired for 20 years and now enjoys the company of his wife and family. His own family includes daughter Lorraine Ensign, son David and his middle son, Richard, who has been deceased since 1973. He has four grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

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