Yucaipa lost a local trailblazer when Jesus Esparza Muñoz, 91, of Yucaipa, died on Dec, 15, 2020, at a rehabilitation hospital. Munoz was born on Sept. 1, 1929, in Los Angeles..
Jesus and his wife Viola settled in Yucaipa in 1979. Jesus became a licensed pipeline contractor in 1966, after returning home from the war as a decorated Army veteran. He eventually started his own pipeline company Munoz and Sons Construction in Anaheim and had a founding role in Munoz Construction Corporation and MCC Pipeline in Yucaipa. Jesus also founded NAMAC (National Association of Mexican American Contractor) in Los Angeles.
Jesus and Vi were active in the community and local politics. After seeing a need to change the political landscape and bring more Chicano and Latinos into leadership in the Inland Empire, Jesus and Vi founded and established the Chicano Latino Caucus of the Inland Empire in 1994. The organization is still active and has helped hundreds of Chicano and Latino candidates get elected to various offices throughout the Inland Empire. Jesus Muñoz was also a founding member of the Yucaipa Democratic Club.
Local leaders shared their thoughts on the passing of Jesus Munoz.
“It is with great sadness that I learn of the passing of Jesus Muñoz,” said Assemblyman James Ramos. “Jesus worked hard to pave the way for many, myself included, to engage in politics and to make a change in our community. He and his late wife, Viola formed the Chicano Latino Caucus as well as the Yucaipa Democratic Club and our community has suffered the loss of a great trailblazer.”
“Jesus Muñoz was a mentor, a leader, a guide, a veteran, and a hero,” said Assemblywoman Eloise Reyes, Majority Leader. “And he was so much more. He unselfishly gave of his time and treasures to make our world a better place. As a decorated veteran, he still endured racial injustices that did not break him. As a businessman, he proved the value of hard work and persistence. As a community leader, he proved the power of uplifting others. As a friend, he was loyal to the Chicano movement and the need to empower our youth. We will miss him. May he rest in eternal peace with Vi at his side, in the glory of Our Father. Jesus Muñoz Presente.”
Tim Prince, San Bernardino Attorney, President Democratic Luncheon Club San Bernardino concurred.
“Jesus Munoz was my mentor and friend, a successful businessman who was a true leader for local Latino and Democratic clubs, causes, and candidates,” said Prince. “He and Vi were amongst the most beloved and inspirational leaders. He was humble but courageous and willing to fight for justice, civil rights, and better government. He inspired me to participate, lead, and fight for my principles.”
Jesus is preceded in death by his loving wife, Viola (Vi) DeLeon Muñoz.
Jesus is survived by his three loving children, Jesus E. Muñoz Jr., Beverly Priscilla Muñoz, Kenneth Paul Muñoz, his four grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren, six great-great-grandchildren, and a host of extended family members.
Per his wishes, Jesus will be cremated, and his ashes will be commingled with the ashes of his wife, Viola in a private family ceremony.