Rosario Santillan

Rosario Fernandez Santillan

Monday, September 28th, 2020
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Born by the side of a river in Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico on March 22, 1952 to Rufina Fernandez and Martin Quintero Santillan, Rosario Fernandez Santillan was born with a fighting spirit. He resided in Mexicali until he was nine when his family moved to Bakersfield after being granted their green cards for permanent residence in the United States of America.

Soon after graduating from high school, Rosario enlisted in the United States Marine Corps from February 1971 to February 1974. He proudly served in Vietnam as part of Battalion Landing Team 1/4, 3rd Marine Division. He applied and successfully completed the process to become a United States citizen a year after receiving his honorable discharge from the Marines. A first-generation immigrant from Mexico, he was the first member of his family to receive a college degree- a feat which he would gratefully recognize as coming on the supportive shoulders of his older siblings. He earned an Associate of Arts degree from Bakersfield College in June 1976 and received his Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology at California State University, Bakersfield in June 1978.

A non-exhaustive list of his previous associations includes: Employment Development Department; Chief Steward for AFSCME AFL-CIO State Bargaining Unit 19; Kern, Inyo, and Mono Central Labor Council (KIM-CLC) representing AFSCME; Past State President and founding member of CAFE de California Inc.; elected member of the Kern County Democratic Central Committee and Co-Chair of the KCDCC Immigration Committee; member of the UFW, Dolores Huerta Foundation and California Department of Corrections Retiree Committee, etc. Recruited by the California Department of Rehabilitation, Rosario enjoyed a successful career as a Farm Labor Specialist before transitioning to the Department of Corrections, Division of Adult Parole Operations where he retired as an Assistant Unit Supervisor after twenty-two years of service.
He is survived by his three loving children: daughter, Renee Santillan; daughter, Rosalina Santillan; son, Rosario J. Santillan and daughter-in-law Cassandra; eight grandchildren, Seth Myrow-Santillan, Eric Veleta, Emma Santillan, Joshua Santillan, Abigail Santillan, Raymond Santillan, Emily Santillan and Luke Santillan; brother, Martin Santillan; brother, Crescencio Santillan and sister-in-law, Jesse; as well as many nieces, nephews and friends who loved him greatly. The youngest of five siblings, he was preceded in death by his parents: mother, Rufina Fernandez; father, Martin Q. Santillan; his sister, Manuela Bernal and brother-in-law Jacobo; sister-in-law, Mary Lou Santillan and his brother, Raymond Santillan.

Rosario spent his life in service to others. He enjoyed the movies, reading, music, travel, the Raiders, Tombstone, his Harley Davidson motorcycle clubs and most of all, his familia. He was an adoring Grandpapa (Grandpa-Grandpa) and resolute father. He touched the lives of so many people and he will be deeply missed. Once a Marine always a Marine, Rosario manifested the USMCs motto through his unwavering commitment to his family. Semper fi.
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Service Details

  • Visitation

    Saturday, October 17th, 2020 | 12:00pm - 2:00pm
    Saturday, October 17th, 2020 12:00pm - 2:00pm
    Greenlawn Funeral Home Southwest - Celebration of Life Center
  • Service

    Saturday, October 17th, 2020 | 2:00pm
    Saturday, October 17th, 2020 2:00pm
    Greenlawn Funeral Home Southwest - Celebration of Life Center


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CHRISTOPHER DUARTE sent flowers to the family of Rosario Fernandez Santillan.
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Mickey Castro Otero

Posted at 12:25am
My deepest condolences to all of the Santillan family, to his children, grandchildren, brothers and numerous nieces and nephews.
Rosario impacted so many lives and leaves a huge void that no one else can fill.
He lived his life, as he often would say, “Just trying to do the right thing.”
He not only leaves a legacy of love for familia, but also one of dedication and commitment for social justice.
He will always be remembered.
The best smile, the best dimples and the best sense of humor ever.
Sin duda, en muchos aspectos, un hombre de fina estampa.

Virginia Borja

Posted at 04:56pm
Our heartfelt sympathies to Rosarios family. My husband Robert met Rosario around summer of 1974 while both were attending Bakersfield College. We soon became good friends with him and his then wife Mickey but lost touch after a few years however remained friends. So sad to hear about your loss. God Bless the family with comfort and peace. Friends, Robert and Virginia Borja


Posted at 03:36am
Sorry that I could be there for you guys. Tio was one of my favorites. Sorry for your loss. Know that I love and am praying for you guys.
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CHRISTOPHER DUARTE purchased flowers and planted a memorial tree for the family of Rosario Santillan. Send Flowers


Linda Lopez

Posted at 03:47pm
I am sad to learn of Rosario's passing. I extend my sincere condolences to his family. I remember Rosario from the days we both worked at California Employment Development Department years ago We both worked in the Unemployment Insurance Benefit unit. Although I had not seen him in several years, I do remember him fondly from the EDD days. Rosario rest in peace.
Linda J. Lopez


Yolanda Chacon-Serna

Posted at 02:07am
Rosario receiving the Berenice Bonillas Award at the 2018 Dorothy Donahoe Dinner.

Rosario was an active Democrat, He was very committed & worked hard to get good candidates elected. He worked diligently in support of Emilio Huerta for Congress.

We will continue to work extremely hard with as much commitment as Rosario this election, Now more than ever to get good Candidates elected and to work towards changing the unjust Immigration laws That have kept Our Child arrival, US Veterans deported.

Please accept Our deepest condolences,
On the Loss of your Beloved Father, Grand Father & Family Member.

We are thankful for Our Fellow Warrior Brother Rosario. He was a very kind giving Person, who had a great Passion in serving Deported Veterans in Tijuana, his Brother's, & fellow US Marines.

Semper Fidelis,
Rest In Peace & Power, Rosario.❤️🙏🏽✊🏽

We Will Miss You,
Sister in the Movement,
Yolanda Chacon-Serna

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