Here’s the obituary for Juan Esparza Ruiz, who died in a timber felling accident last week.
Juan Esparza Ruiz (1956 – 2012)
Juan Esparza Ruiz was born into this world on August 27, 1956 and left to be with our Lord on January 26, 2012. He was taken doing exactly what he loved: felling timber. Born to Jesus Ruiz Munoz and Magdalena Esparza DeLoera near Auguascalientes, Mexico, he was the eldest son of six children. His dream was to come to the United States to make a life so that he could take care of his family back home in Mexico. This dream was fulfilled when he finally relocated to Idaho around the age of 20. Always eager to work, he became a ranch hand for Ernest and Helen “Pat” Reynolds, who opened their hearts and home to him. Helen baked him the first birthday cake he ever received at the age of 21. He worked there for several years before relocating to McKinleyville, California, for work. Shortly after arriving in McKinleyville, he met Alice Anita Coffer and married her, not just once but twice, also divorcing twice. They had two sons, Juan Carlos and Tyler Luis. Alice’s older children, Jonathan, Winona, and Eric also called him “Dad”. He then met his last love and partner in life, Linda Marie Smith on February 9, 1997. They shared love’s “roller-coaster ride” and resided in McKinleyville together for many years. Juan achieved many goals he set for himself. He was a self-educated man, and arrived in the United States not having completed grammar school in his homeland. Through pure determination and countless crossword puzzles, he had mastered the English language, and was a natural when it involved numbers- making calculations and estimates with ease and accuracy. Once relocating to Humboldt County, Juan worked in many jobs, from landscaping to millwork to logging. Initially, like most loggers, he set choker but eventually worked his way up to timber-faller. He was a “natural” at felling timber, a fast and hard-working man, always getting the job done and never backing down to the challenges that faced him in his work. He proudly received his Timber Operator’s License then started his own logging and tree-service business, Juan Ruiz Logging. He loved being in the woods with his dog, “Woofy”. What a team they were, Juan would drop a tree and when it hit the ground, Woofy would charge and attack the tree! Juan was known throughout the timber industry from his start with “gypo” outfits to contracting with major timber corporations. Rick Harding played a vital role in Juan’s life, not only his main contractor, but like a brother of the woods. Juan will be greatly missed, yet always remembered for pulling off the canyon job with an old yarder (a job that no one else wanted), his fabulous “pushes” (multiple trees fell in a row), the quickness and agility of his feet, as well as his quickness to smile and laugh. He had the ability to accept and befriend all, and lived by the motto “treat others the way you want to be treated.” Juan Ruiz truly knew no strangers. He loved the woods and also working with wood, making bowls and boxes for everyone, and carved and painted a 4 ft. eagle with wings spread for the tree in the front yard of the house. Many of the fences in his neighborhood were gifts from Juan, built from the generosity and determination of his heart. Juan had a fondness for Cher-ae Heights Casino, eagles, boxing, tinkering out in his shop, and building fires in the backyard fireplace, just to sit around with a cup of coffee. He always enjoyed visiting with friends, especially Galen and Chrissy, and his good friend and neighbor, Eddie Nelson. He was an uncomplicated man who enjoyed the simpler things and way of life. Juan is survived by his mother, Magdalina Esparza DeLoera of Aguascalientes, Mexico; brother Jesus “Chuy” and sisters Ticha, Lupe, Carmela and Cuca, all of Aguascalientes, Mexico; by over thirty nieces and nephews residing in Aguascalientes, Mexico; by his sons, Juan Carlos Ruiz of Eureka, California and Tyler Luiz Ruiz of McKinleyville, California; by his step-children Winona, Eric and Sawar; also by numerous aunts, uncles and cousins in both the United States and Mexico. He was called “Papa Juan” by his grandchildren, Thomas and Kailyn of Eureka, California; and Mate‚k, Imya and Imnihva of Klamath Falls, Oregon. He is also survived by his love and cohabitant, Linda Marie Smith of McKinleyville, California and his father-in-law whom he called “partner,” Joseph P. Smith, Sr., of Eureka, California. Juan was preceded in death by his father, Jesus Ruiz Munoz of Aguascalientes, Mexico and his step-son Jonathon of Humboldt County, California. A celebration of Juan’s life will be held at the Seventh Day Adventist Church at 1200 Central Ave. in McKinleyville on Saturday, February 4, 2012 at 2:30pm. All are welcome to attend. The family of Juan Ruiz would like to give special thanks to Rick Harding, Arvie Seiber, Pastor Bob, and the Humboldt County Sheriff Deputees whom retrieved Juan’s body after the logging accident, for it was an extremely difficult task. Thanks also to Roy Horton for his kindness, for which the family is forever grateful. Thank you to all the wonderful people offering condolences; the out-pouring of love, support and prayers will never be forgotten. Juan is “in big timber, now, for there walks a logger.”