In Memoriam: Leticia Fuentes, 1960-2014

For 26 years, Leticia “Letty” Fuentes worked in Pomona College’s dining halls, most notably as a cashier at Frary Dining Hall. Since December, she had been struggling with cancer, and on March 23, Fuentes passed away. She is remembered as a supportive mother, compassionate co-worker, and loyal friend.

“Growing up I would tell her that one of my dreams was to own a business, and she motivated me until I was able to achieve my dream,” Fuentes’ son David Fuentes said.

“She enjoyed people, she enjoyed life, and if you needed someone to talk, you could go to her and she would help you solve your problem,” Frank Dining Hall Supervisor Cathy Hicks said. “She was very understanding.”

According to Hicks, she and Fuentes became good friends after a small disagreement brought them close together in 1997. Since then, they have spent a lot of time together outside of work going to concerts, spending time at each other’s houses, and celebrating Christmas together.

“She was a true friend,” Hicks said. “It was like she was one of my sisters.”

Hicks said that Fuentes was very fond of the students, and the students were fond of Fuentes. She would joke with the students by teasing them if they forgot their meal cards.

“She left a big seat that no one will be able to fill,” Hicks said.

Frary cook Rolando Araiza, another close friend, said that Fuentes was the first person he met when he began working at Frary. 

“I love Leticia with all my heart,” Araiza said. “She just had this motherly vibe and it was great to have that kind of companion at work.”

Araiza said that Fuentes was always strong and optimistic, and he often sought her advice. 

“She had a big heart,” Araiza said. “She was always having fun and joking around, saying that the guys from the baseball team were her boyfriends."

Duncan Hussey PO '13 wrote in an email to TSL that when he played football at Pomona, Fuentes was one of the team's most loyal fans and managed to make it to almost all of their home games.

“I will never forget the love and support she showed me during my time at Pomona,” Hussey wrote. “Every time I saw her I would leave with a smile on my face, and her infectious personality and honesty will always be a part of my best memories there.”

Like Araiza, Frary cook Vincent Gamalinda quickly developed a friendship with Fuentes. The two first met in 2011.

“I became very close to her because she was so charismatic that you tended to gravitate toward her,” Gamalinda said.

Gamalinda added that Fuentes was very attentive and caring toward her friends. He said that he remembers how she went out of her way to call him last year when he was injured to make sure he was doing better.

“She shows me that life’s too short to mope or be sad or worry about the past,” Gamalinda said. “Letty is the kind of person that what you see is what you get because she’s real.” 

Services organized by Fuentes' family and a separate event organized by students from the Claremont Student-Worker Alliance (CSWA) will be held to honor Fuentes’ life.

Caroline Bourscheid PZ '16 said that CSWA had planned to make a large card and poster with a picture of Fuentes for students to sign, but when they went to Frary to create the poster, a display was already there.

“We don’t know who did it, but we’re pretty sure it was the workers,” Bourscheid said.

Bourscheid encouraged students to attend memorial services and to sign the poster at Frary.

“The workers do so much for us, and it’s important to recognize all their hard work and give Leticia the respect because she was an important person at Pomona,” Bourscheid said.

Fuentes is survived by her sons, David Fuentes and Alex Fuentes.

“I would want her to be remembered as a caring, loving person, and someone who would always lend a hand whenever it was needed," David Fuentes said. "Even if it was just a day when somebody looked like they were sad, she would be there to put a smile on your face to make your day go easier."

Maria Corona, Fuentes' cousin, said that she appreciates the Frary managers and workers for their support of Fuentes' family.

Services will be held for Fuentes at Forest Lawn in Covina, Calif. The address is 21300 Via Verde Dr., Covina, Calif. 91724. The viewing will take place today, April 4, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. The funeral will take place Saturday, April 5, at 11 a.m. After the funeral, there will be an event at Frank that students are welcome to attend.