Casket with Chunky Sánchez is carried out after memorial service in Chicano Park. Photo by Chris Stone

Marisol Rerucha recalls Ramón “Chunky” Moroyoqui Sánchez as an “icon and a legend” in San Diego and nationwide. But Rerucha, his goddaughter, said his legacy is more than his music and youth work.

Family members react at Chunky Sánchez memorial service in Chicano Park. Photo by Chris Stone

“He changed the lives of thousands,” she said before his memorial service Saturday in Barrio Logan, attended by more than a thousand people, including civic lights such as Councilman David Alvarez. She said his influence will be felt through their families “generation upon generations to come.”

Sánchez died Oct. 28 in a San Diego hospital, two days before his 65th birthday.

Born to Blythe farmworkers Josefina Moroyoqui and Ramon Sánchez Oct. 30, 1951, he had lived in San Diego since the 1970s. He is survived by his wife, Isabel Enrique Sánchez, and children Ixcatli, Ramon, Esmeralda, Mauricio and Tonantizin, 15 grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

He was preceded in death by his son, Fernando Julio Sánchez, who died in 2010.

Sánchez cofounded the musical group Los Alacranes. Family members said the band’s “Chicano Park Samba” expressed “the struggles and self-determination of the Chicano community in taking over and creating Chicano Park.”

Deep emotions were shared at Chunky Sánchez memorial service in Chicano Park. Photo by Chris Stone

He also worked as a teacher, Little League coach and a director of a youth center, and was a die-hard Chargers fan, according to his family. He was the recipient of numerous awards, including the National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship in 2013, and performed at United Farm Workers rallies, sometimes at the request of civil rights leader Cesar Chavez.

Throughout his life, Sánchez championed civil rights, and through his music provided prospective on “the bicultural experience,” according to a GoFundMe page raising money to help his family with funeral costs.

A celebration of life is scheduled for Chicano Park from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, with music, Danza Azteca, Ballet Folklorico — an event emceed by Consuelo “Chelo” Manriquez. A private procession and burial followed his Saturday memorial service.

Sánchez’s slogan — “Educate, not incarcerate” — was present on a flower arrangement’s slash at Chicano Park — which he helped found.

“His music is what really bound us and gave voice to not just biculturalism and what the Mexican-American experience is but also to all of the issues that are happening,” said Rerucha, also an educator.

“His music is a narrative of the story of the Chicano movement in San Diego.”

Mourners carried programs at Chunky Sánchez memorial service in Chicano Park. Photo by Chris Stone

She said his family is extremely grateful for “all of the love and outpouring of support and appreciation for him. And I’m feeling full of love because the community is — as always — coming together.”

Her hope is that the community won’t forget his family and the work that so important to him.

“When you document … history, that voice continues. The documentation is in the people whose lives he’s touched, and their children and their children’s children,” Rerucha said.

“He changed lives of gang members, people who were having substance abuse, people who had tremendous issues in their families — and go into that prison cycle. And they were able to break that because of the work that he did with them. And they are now doing that with others.”

Still, amid “some really great things” happening, more needs to be done,” said Rerucha, a career technical education specialist with the San Diego County Office of Education.

She called for “comprehensive support” for families in need.

“That’s the message that we hope continues,” she said.

— City News Service contributed to this report.

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