Bernal & Sepulveda Family

Members of the Bernal family posing with a car, c. 1920

Margaret Bernal Sepulveda was the third of 10 children born to Ramon and Adela Bernal in Arlington, CA.  Her father, Ramon Bernal was born in Tempe, AZ in 1909, and her mother, Adela (Saiz) Bernal in Bernalillo, NM in 1916. Their 10 children were Ramon, Esther, Margaret, Clara, Andy, Mary Ann, Joe, Frank, Cristina (“Chris”), and Conrad. The Bernal name has long established roots from the pioneering days of Arizona in 1812. The Bernal Family members were business owners in Tempe, Chandler, and Gilbert for nearly 100 years prior to Arizona becoming a state in 1912.

Margaret remembers the family adobe-style home her father had built. The home was where the children were raised for several years until it was sold in 1964. Margaret’s father, Ray Bernal, owned approximately 44 acres of farm property in the East Valley and also owned and operated a custom Hay Baling and Hay Hauling business which he assumed from his father, Ramon Bernal Sr. after he became ill.

Her Grandparents, Ramon Bernal Sr. and Clara, settled nearby in 1915. They raised horses, dairy cows and pigs which kept all family members supplied with meat and milk.  They also had fruit and citrus trees and grew vegetables and other produce. 

All family members were involved in the family tradition of celebrating “Santo Niño” (Christmas) and attending midnight mass at the original St. Anne’s Catholic Church where Margaret and her sisters sang in the Church Choir. The Bernal children assisted their mother with the younger children while the adult women cooked dinner and baked for the holiday feast.

Because of racial discrimination, Margaret and her siblings, Ramon, Esther and Clara had to attend a “Mexican” school for a few years. Their parents then decided to enroll them at Queen of Peace Catholic School in Mesa, AZ, which was integrated.

After several years of transporting the children to Mesa, Ray and Adela Bernal, Mrs. Susie Sotomayor, Mrs. Annie Lopez and Ms. Anna Marie Rosales petitioned the Gilbert School Board of Trustees to end the segregation of students in the Gilbert Public Schools on September 12, 1947.  On October 6, 1947, the Board of Trustees approved the petition and in 1949, the school was desegregated.

In high school, Margaret was active in softball, tennis, badminton, Girls Athletic Association, yearbook, drama and journalism and was Secretary Treasurer of her senior class.  She was also involved in Catholic Youth Organization (CYO), and the St. Anne’s Catholic Church Choir. There were 31 students in Margaret’s graduating class and she recalls some of the families that lived in the community, such as the Rosales, Ruiz, Serrano, Erramuzpe, Pine, and Nichols families.

As a teenager, Margaret and her friends “hung out” at the local drug store soda fountain and watched TV programs such as “The Hit Parade, American Bandstand and the Ed Sullivan Show” at home. Margaret remembers always coming into Chandler to do most of their shopping. Serrano’s Clothing Company, which was located at the corner of Boston Street and Arizona Avenue, was one of the stores they frequented.  

In the late 1950’s, Margaret and Clara worked for their Aunt Estefana “Taffy” Bernal who owned and operated the Peacock Beauty Shop on Oregon Street in Downtown Chandler. The shop was open for over two decades (1940’s – 1960’s) and was located just south of what is now the Religious Store. 

By her senior year, Margaret met her future husband, Manuel Sepulveda. They married in 1958 and have been married over 46 years. Manuel retired from the USAF with 25 years of active duty and 14 years of active reserve for a total of 39 years of service.

They have five sons, Michael, Martin (presently a Chandler Councilmember), Matthew Monte and Marcus, who is currently serving in Iraq as an Aircraft Control Operator.  They have five grandchildren. After retiring, Margaret and Manuel relocated to Gilbert.

Aside from being a devoted wife and mother, Margaret has been an active volunteer at Good Samaritan Hospital Auxiliary, Election Board Volunteer, Church Fundraising and other Church and School related activities. 

Biography Research Submitted by Mary Polanco-Gerlach & Diane Brown

Biography Submitted by Diane Brown & Manuel & Margaret Sepulveda

Wedding of Margaret Bernal and Manuel Sepulveda, 1958