Former City Clerk, community activist Victor Salas passes at 80
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula News
Published: January 18, 2013
Whether football or fireworks, like all other things he tackled in life Victor Salas Sr. took his elected position as City Clerk seriously and spearheaded some serious upgrades to technology during the four-year term he served (1996-2000).
Salas, a Santa Paula native whose family had deep and far-reaching roots in the city, passed away after a brief illness on January 10, 2013. He was 80 years old.
Victor was born on September 9, 1932, to Juan Salas and Concepcion Martinez in Santa Paula, one of 13 children. A product of local schools, Victor was a member of the high school track team and he was tailback for the Cardinal Champion Football teams in 1950 and 1951. He graduated from Santa Paula High School in 1951 and remained a lifelong proud Cardinal.
With his brother Robert, Victor worked as a disc jockey for KSPA Radio Station owned by his late father, Juan Salas. After high school Victor served his country as a member of the United States Air Force, where he was stationed northwest of London, England. A radio operator, Victor’s orders took him throughout Europe and parts of North Africa.
When his military duty was over Victor returned to Santa Paula, where he met and married Rachel Santos. The couple had three sons.
Victor worked many years as a draftsman and engineer for Raytheon and Infrared Industries in Carpinteria, while concurrently owning Salas T.V. The store was next to the family’s long-held “El Brilliante Market” - then owned by Victor’s father Juan and later by his brother Sam Salas.
Victor’s professional career also included being a draftsman for the then-Limoneira Water Company, where he helped to design the water treatment system for the City of Santa Paula.
Always civic-minded, Victor was a Planning Commissioner for seven years and spearheaded a campaign that named several city streets after community leaders such as Morrison, Leavens, Peralta, Tirre, Estriga, King, Vela and Salas.
Victor also served as a Santa Paula High School trustee, and along with close friends Al Escoto and Ray Gonzalez founded the Mexican American Chamber of Commerce (MACC). In 1986 with the MACC, Salas and Jim Tovias founded the Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular and continued to stage the community event until the early 1990s. Chamber special events including an annual carnival supplied scholarships to graduating SPHS seniors.
Victor was also a strong supporter of Santa Paula Memorial Hospital, including special donations earmarked for programs to prompt awareness of the special health needs of Hispanics.
Victor was elected City Clerk in 1996 and served for four years. He was an advocate for openness, and found the Council Chamber lacking in technology and basic comfort. Victor launched a quest to upgrade council microphone technology and seating for the council, as well as for the public.
Victor stepped down after serving one term as City Clerk and was followed in office by his son Steven Salas, who also served a single term. In 2007, then Mayor Ray Luna and the council honored Victor for his wide community service.
Known as a tireless worker always looking for new business ventures, Victor and his family operated a Santa Paula-based gopher trap manufacturing plant.
A devout Methodist, Victor was also a member of El Buen Pastor United Methodist Church in the city of Santa Paula and loved singing in the choir. He was also a vocalist in the former Santa Paula Community Choir. Later in life Victor would sing and give prayer at the Senior Center in Santa Paula and different churches in Fillmore.
Victor was preceded in death by his son, Steven John Salas; and is survived by his wife, Rachel Salas; sons, Victor Salas Jr. and Michael Daniel Salas; grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Arrangements are under the direction of Funeraria Del Angel Stetler Mortuary. Visitation/viewing is 3 to 8 p.m. Thursday, January 17, and services are at 11 a.m. Friday, January 18, both at the mortuary, 738 E. Santa Paula St., Santa Paula.