Jesus G. Monroy
May 24, 1932-April 25, 2017
El Paso, Texas, U.S.A.
Submitted by Charito Monroy
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Jesús G. Monroy, known to his friends as Jesse, died in El Paso, Texas, on April 25, 2017. He was 84 years old. He was a long-time resident of Northern California, most recently living in Menlo Park.
Jesse was born in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, México on May 24, 1932, to General Jesús Monroy Eslava and María del Refugio García Fuentes. General Monroy participated in the Mexican Revolution of 1910 under Emiliano Zapata. General Monroy was recognized by the Mexican government for his 55 years of military service.
Jesse was raised in Matamoros by his mother and by two uncles, who were local merchants. He was educated at Escuela Portales in Mexico City, Colegio México in Matamoros, México, St. Joseph's Academy in Brownsville, Texas, and Instituto Laurens in Monterrey, México.
He later served in the U.S. Army with the 4th Regimental Combat Team, 28th Infantry Regiment, 74th Regimental Combat Team, 74th Infantry Regiment, and 364th Infantry Regiment.
At his uncles's stores, located at Mercado Juarez in Matamoros, Jesse learned his first lessons about business by setting up a small table at the entrance of their stores. He called this little table his own store and sold his wares to local people, tourists, and American soldiers on leave during World War II. This was the beginning of his 60-year career in business.
After relocating to Northern California, Jesse started out as a cook at the Original Pancake House in San Mateo. Later, he transferred to Uncle John's Pancake House in Millbrae, where he worked as a chef, a supervisor, and eventually the restaurant manager.
A medical doctor, Dr. Albert Solgaard of Los Banos, California, came to breakfast at Uncle John's and was impressed with how well the restaurant was run and with Jesse's work ethic and charismatic manner.
Dr. Solgaard invited Jesse to become a partner and help build a restaurant in Los Banos, located about 110 miles southeast of San Mateo in the San Joaquin Valley of California. Jesse helped design and manage the construction of the new restaurant, which was called The Pancake House.
Upon its completion, Jesse managed the day-to-day operation of the restaurant. The Pancake House became a huge success. Located on busy Highway 152, it catered to locals, travelers, and tour buses that used this highway to connect the Bay Area, Los Angeles and Yosemite.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, a portion of a major California freeway, Interstate 5, was being completed less than 10 miles from Los Banos. This new highway would offer travelers a faster and more direct route from Northern to Southern California. But, since it was a new freeway it lacked places to eat and lodge.
Sensing a business opportunity, Jesse had a vision of opening a hotel and restaurant complex along Interstate 5 on property owned by Henry Wolfsen Sr., who was a regular customer at the Pancake House.
Henry Wolfsen, a respected businessman and community leader in Los Banos, sensed that Jesse had an excellent idea. He encouraged Jesse and helped him bring his idea to reality. On land at the corner of Highway 5 and W. Henry Miller Road, Jesse constructed a large hotel and restaurant complex. He modeled this complex after the plaza of Tepoztlan, Morelos, Mexico, where his father functioned as mayor during the Mexican Revolution.
Jesse named his new project Mission Tesoro (Treasure Mission). Mission Tesoro officially opened in early 1974. During this period, Jesse also acquired the Foster's chain of 28 restaurants located in San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, and San Mateo. In purchasing this chain, he discovered three murals created by noted California artist Benjamin Bufano. These murals were located at one of the Foster's restaurants, Moars Cafeteria, at 33 Powell St. in San Francisco, and were created specifically for the cafeteria. Jesse was inspired by the murals Franciscan religious themes and beautiful execution, and planned to display the murals at Mission Tesoro. Jesse then moved the murals to Mission Tesoro.
The Monroy family later moved from Los Banos back to the San Francisco Bay Area and settled in Menlo Park. Jesse re-established himself on the Peninsula and developed and managed real estate and property development businesses. He also worked for Vardax Mineral Systems, headquartered in Canada, in an advisory capacity regarding mining opportunities in Mexico and Central America.
Jesse was proud of his Mexican heritage. He became involved in the Hispanic community of Redwood City by reaching out and helping Hispanics who were setting up restaurants and other community businesses, by helping local law enforcement and civic leaders on community issues, and by directing Hispanics to immigration specialists and agencies that would help resolve their U.S. residency and citizenship status.
Jesse and his wife Lupita traveled around the world. They considered their visits to Japan and China as travel highlights. Jesse also was a personal friend of prominent U.S. and Mexican politicians and celebrities, and was active for many years supporting U.S. candidates for political office.
Surviving Jesse are his beloved wife of almost 60 years, Lupita Leal de Monroy; his children, Charito Monroy, Jesus Monroy Jr., Gustavo Monroy, Eva Margarita Monroy, Julio César Monroy, and Dulce María Monroy; his daughters-in-law Patty Gonzalez Monroy and Christine Wright Monroy; his son-in-law Carl Sandberg, and his grandchildren Janelle Alicia Monroy, Alondra Monroy, Katia Monroy, Gustavo Monroy, and Benjamin Oliver Monroy. His sister, Petra Amalia (Berta) Monroy Garcia, also survives him, as does an extended family located in Mexico and Texas.
Tags: veteran, business