February 24, 1932 – November 7, 2020

“Troubadour for the Lord”

Hilario “Harry” Gonzalez Jr. was born Feb. 24, 1932, in Ithaca, Mich., to Hilario Gonzalez Sr. and Eloisa Sylva Gonzalez. When he was young, Hilario’s family relocated to California and settled in East Los Angeles. As a young man, Hilario first earned a living as a migrant farm worker and as an employee of a railroad company, driving spikes. He joined the United States Army, serving for four years, including during the Korean War, and was honorably discharged as a staff sergeant.

Following the war, Hilario made a career as a sawsmith, and in 1955, he married Anna Marie Polydoros. They had two daughters, Stephanie and Jeannie, whom they raised in East Los Angeles.

Hilario was an accomplished and self-taught guitarist, playing flamenco and traditional Mexican/mariachi music in several trios and mariachi bands in Southern California, and with his brothers and brother-in-law, for many years.

In the mid-’90s, Hilario and Anna Marie moved to Angels Camp, where Hilario volunteered at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church for approximately 23 years as a eucharistic minister, taking communion to the sick and homebound, and further lifting their spirits by playing guitar and singing. He also sang in the church choir every Sunday and performed at funerals. Everyone in Angels Camp knew the curly white-haired man with his guitar and traditional Mexican treja, who strolled up and down Main Street, singing and playing his guitar for the Angels Camp Christmas open house, Calaveras Arts Council events, at Bret Harte High School and at the Calaveras County Fair and Jumping Frog Jubilee.

Hilario is survived by his daughters, Stephanie Bunch and Jeannie Enzi (Andy); grandchildren, Greg Slusser (Jennifer), Katrina Johnson, Alisia Kwon (Rubin) and Alexander Muñoz; great-grandchildren, Gabriel Slusser; and sister, Mary Luevano (Steve).

Hilario was preceded in death by his parents and 12 siblings: Josie, Jack, Virginia, John, Grace, Vince, Lalo, Ray, Irene, Tony, Charlie and Juanita.

Donations may be made in his honor to the St. Jude Foundation.


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