Navarrete Family

Leaving his native city of Irapuato, Guanajuato, Mexico, at age 17, Apolinar Maciel Navarrete eventually ended up in Chandler, where he remained until his death in 1976 at age 87.

He had left Irapuato at that young age because he could see the Revolution on the horizon and he did not want to be part of a cause he did not believe in. Papá was born on July 23, 1889, to Marcelina Maciel and Antonio Navarrete, living in Irapuato until 1906, when he left for the United States. He made his way to Bakersfield, California, on April 7, 1907. After eight months as a day laborer, he returned to Irapuato for two years and on his return to the states settled in Tempe.

The townspeople of Chandler and his employers affectionately called Papá "Pete." His formal education was scant, with only a few weeks of elementary schooling in Mexico, but he learned through the "school of hard knocks" and taught himself to read English and Spanish.

In 1910, Papá started working on Dr. A.J. Chandler's ranch. In March 1912, the same year that Chandler was founded, construction began on the San Marcos Hotel. Papa moved from the ranch to the little village of Chandler, and began work on the hotel. Along with the foreman of the building job, Papá helped move all the gravel, rock and sand from the railroad depot. The materials had been hauled there from Tempe by train. It took three years with approximately 80 men working two 10-hour shifts a day to finish the hotel. Wages were $2 a day.

A few months prior to completion of the hotel, Papá moved to Phoenix, where he stayed for one year. But he liked Chandler best and came back to live there in 1915.  He had a team of horses and a wagon and was in the hauling business until 1927, when he returned to work for the Chandler Improvement Company, which owned the San Marcos then.

Papá worked on the San Marcos grounds, taking care of the golf course and its greens. In 1939, he was made head greenskeeper and continued in that position until 1957 when he retired.

When Papá worked on the golf course at the San Marcos he and his family moved into a house on the hotel grounds. It was there that he raised his family. Papá was a favorite of many guests who wintered at the San Marcos and he had friends from many parts of the United States.

After retirement, he kept busy as the gardener at Helen Munsell's home on the San Marcos grounds. The beautiful, well-kept flower gardens, cactus beds and orderly array of shrubs testified to his loving and expert care.

Papá's first wife was Ofelia Rios, and they had two girls and one boy. In 1922, he married my mother, Petra Galaviz Villalobos, who was a widow with a girl and a boy. My parents had four boys and three girls together. Raul G. Navarrete, the oldest, grew up to become Chandler's first and only Hispanic mayor. He served two terms. My father was indeed proud of Raul, the same son who was responsible for my father becoming a very proud citizen of the United States in 1944. Mother died on Aug. 3, 1942; Papá married Onesima Dueñas on July 2, 1947.

Papá left a marvelous legacy to his family: There is nothing you can't do if you really want to do it. 

Biography Submitted by Betty Navarrete Fairbanks