May 30, 2008

Obituary

Alberto G. Puente

January 5, 1927 -- May 24, 2008

During his career as a police officer Alberto G. Puente became known for his keen observation skills, persistence and methodical approach which led to arrests that may not have otherwise been made. In his early years as a police officer he was assigned to the Border Inspection Station in San Ysidro. While there, he developed a positive rapport with Mexican Government officials. This was during a time when there were few bilingual and bicultural police officers. Mr. Puente’s fluency in both Spanish and English and with Mexican culture was recognized as a much needed and valued asset to the San Diego Police Department. His other assignments included the Harbor area and Point Loma.

Later in his career Mr. Puente served as a community relations officer. In that capacity he carried out Police Department public relations activities, spoke to students and community organizations about the work of police officers and addressed community safety issues. He received several commendations from the Police Department and numerous citizen commendations for his work.

In April 1970 Mr. Mike Amador, Jr., Executive Secretary of the Community Action Council on Logan Avenue sent the Chief of Police a letter of appreciation making special note of Mr. Puente’s assistance in dealing with a conflict between city officials and the Logan Heights community. Community members wanted to use the land beneath Coronado Bridge as a park while the city wanted to use it to construct offices for the California Highway Patrol. Mr. Puente represented the community’s perspective with patience, understanding and effective community relations.

Upon retiring from the San Diego Police Department Mr. Puente joined the San Diego Community College Security. While in that position, he was integral to raising the standards and professionalizing the security department. Mr. Puente hired experienced staff rather than using independent contractors as had been the practice prior to his tenure, he arranged to send security staff to the Police Academy for training and developed and implemented guidelines and protocols.

In 1980 the President of the College’s Educational Cultural Complex located in Southeast San Diego especially noted the sensitivity and efficiency with which Mr. Puente carried out his duties and the positive image he provided for the Mexican-American community at the campus, which prior to 1979 had essentially been ignored. Mr. Puente retired from the San Diego Community College system in 1993 with the rank of Captain.

Born January 5, 1927 to Benito and Maria Puente in Chambers, Arizona, Alberto G. Puente grew up along the southern border of the Navajo reservation with his 5 brothers and 4 sisters. As a teenager he came to San Diego with his family and worked for Rohr Aircraft. Subsequently, he enlisted in the Navy and proudly served his country as a Seaman First Class with a tour of duty in the Philippines. In 1953 Mr. Puente joined the San Diego Police Department.

As an avid baseball fan Mr. Puente was a member of the Umpire’s Association. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s he could frequently be found umpiring baseball games on Saturdays with his 5 children in tow. He also collaborated as an umpire with Mexican baseball teams in Tecate, Baja California. Golfing was another sport he enjoyed.

With his wife Rebecca, Mr. Puente enjoyed an active social life participating in organizations such as the Spanish Speaking Political Association, the California Mexican American Society, and the Alba 80 Foundation. He was a charter member of the Bilingue Latinoamericano Chapter #3052 of Toastmasters International and an active member of the Rotary Club.

Later in life Mr. Puente reunited with his fellow classmates from Signalman School during his Navy days. He and his wife Rebecca hosted and coordinated annual reunions. Spending leisure time with his wife and family were his favorite pastimes. He traveled throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and Spain and especially enjoyed taking his children to Arizona to see his childhood stomping grounds and learn about Native Indian culture.

As a father he took great pride in participating with the usual rites of passage. Such as walking his eldest daughter down the aisle when she married, traveling to Washington, DC to visit his younger daughter when she graduated from the American University and later returning frequently to northern Arizona to visit his daughter while she was working on the Apache, Navajo and Hopi reservations. Mr. Puente had fun celebrating his grandchildren’s birthdays, baptisms and first communions. He always enjoyed family gatherings.

Mr. Puente succumbed from complications of Parkinson’s Disease and is survived by his wife Rebecca, 5 children, 8 grandchildren, 4 brothers and 1 sister.

A Rosary service will be held Friday, May 30 at 7:30pm at the El Camino Memorial Cypress View Chapel on 3953 Imperial Avenue. On Saturday, May 31 Mass will be held at 12 Noon at St Martin’s of Tours Catholic Church on 7710 El Cajon Blvd. in La Mesa followed by a burial ceremony at El Camino Memorial Cemetery in Sorrento Valley.

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