My name is Gil Hurtado. I was born in 1960 and raised in East Los Angeles. I graduated with Honors from Garfield Senior HS in 1978. In 1980, at the age of 20, I asked the love of my life, Lily, to marry me. Fortunately for me she accepted. We have been happily married for nearly 39 years.
Growing up in a low-income neighborhood, that offered few opportunities to youth, gave me the perspective that put me on the path of wanting to make a difference for youth. When my son was born, I wanted to make sure that I would be involved with his development in whatever he wanting to do. Of all the cities where to raise our family, we made South Gate our choice.
As my children got older, my son wanted to participate in baseball. I signed him up with the SGJAA. I was approached by a board-member and asked if I could help with the program. I started off as a coach but found myself with questions on how things were done. I suddenly found myself as part of the SGJAA Board. Almost immediately after joining, they elected me as their president and have held that title longer than anyone in the history of the program. Our program has accomplished the mission that I set in place. That mission was to offer this program to both boys and girls at the most affordable rate possible. Through my efforts, we have not raised the fees for about 20 years. Now our program serves as the training ground for participants at our three local high schools.
In 1982 I was hired as a Letter Carrier for the USPS. At a very early age I was given the opportunity to serve as a Supervisor. This is very unusual because these positions typically go to employees who have served for many years. My commitment to my job opened the door for this opportunity. Throughout my thirty years of service I received numerous letters of recognition for meeting safety, budgetary, and service goals. However, the awards that I treasure most include an award that I received for performing the Heimlich Maneuver that saved the life of one of my employees and recognition given to me by newly promoted supervisors as the Onsight Trainer of the Year award. I was able to retire at an early age. I retired at the end of 2013 at the age of 53.
College is not for everyone. There are numerous great careers that do not require a degree. I was already supervising when the decision to return to college came up. My wife Lily always had a concern that one day I may regret not going to college because we married very young. Of course, that would never be the case. Through her encouragement I decided to enter college life. I attended East Los Angeles college and obtained an AA Degree in Liberal Arts in1993, graduating with Honors once again. Just like I did in high school.
After retiring in 2013, I found myself in a very interesting situation. What to do with my time? Since I was coaching the JV squad for SGHS, I was asked by some as to why I didn’t do some part time teaching. Well, I didn’t have a degree or teaching credential. At the age of 57, my wife gave me the okay to return to college. The dean at CSUDH convinced me to apply even though the time had already passed. I was fortunate that they made an exception for me that allowed me to enter campus life. Although things had dramatically changed since 1993, I was able to obtain a BA Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies/Global Studies in May of 2019. I graduated with Honors once again. This demonstrates that although things change, my efforts will always be the best that I can offer. Three different institutions in three different decades all resulted in graduating with Honors.
About 20 years ago, our city was experiencing one of the darkest times in its long and wonderful history. There was no doubt in my mind that this kind of activity demanded that we all do our part. The original documents calling for a Recall of those dishonest officials will show that I was one of the original signers of this petition. Although there was heavy rain and numerous acts of violence, my efforts were constant. I am proud to have been part of the “cleanup” group. We were successful in removing these individuals and have been working very hard to keep others out.
Since 2003, I have been serving our city in many capacities. I have been a Planning Commissioner, Councilmember, President of the Independent Cities Finance Authority, Executive Board Member and President of the Gateway Cities COG, and Co-Chair of the I-710 Project Committee. In my time in these positions, I missed one and only one meeting. That one meeting was missed after suffering a massive heart attack. I have made myself available to our community by attending numerous Neighborhood Watch/ Community in Action meetings for about 20 years. Now, with social media, I have been assisting residents with a variety of concerns. I’ve not needed a title nor recognition of any kind. I believe that my record demonstrates my commitment to our city.
Although I’m retired and my children have grown up and moved on, I feel that my work is not done. Regarding my children, John is a CSI in El Segundo and continues playing concerts with his Beatles tribute band. He has been doing benefit concerts that have benefitted the SGJAA, local high schools’ sports programs, Relay for Life, Santa Cop, local turkey giveaways, the SG Youth Commission, St. Margaret’s Food Pantry, and many other worthy causes. My daughter Natalie went on to obtain her master’s degree. She is now a schoolteacher for a neighboring cities catholic school. I am very proud of their development and the honest young contributors to the growth of society. I am also very proud of my wife Lily. It is through her encouragement and support that I can do the things that I do.
All these experiences, whether it’s with college, work, life at home, or those that occur in our city, have allowed me to work to make things better to the best of my ability. Although I received those awards from work and Honors from school, and the Lifetime Achievement Award for my years of working with the youth, my greatest award is the love I feel from my community and the love that I feel at home from my wife, children, and grandchildren.