Soto Family

Eulogio “Lefty” Soto in St. Mary’s softball uniform, 1941

Eulogio Soto was considered one of the best pitchers for the Chandler softball team called the “Hay Balers” where being left-handed earned him the nickname “Lefty”. He was born in 1924 to José and Guadalupe Soto who settled in Chandler after leaving Sonora, Mexico in 1919. They were the second generation of Soto family members who came to America for an opportunity to work as farm laborers. Lefty’s maternal grandfather, Pedro (“Pete”) Montano was a local blacksmith and his father José worked for the Dobson family farm located on Dobson Road. His maternal grandmother Maria Luisa Bojorquez de Montano was a strong influence in his life after his mother, Guadalupe, passed away in 1930. He was one of three children with a brother, Hector, who died as a baby (1 year old), and a sister, Estella (Soto) Buelna. His grandfather built their home on Hidalgo Street where, over a span of 80 years, several generations of family were raised.

As a teenager, Lefty had a strong work ethic taking on many jobs such as a shoe shine boy and stock clerk for George Y. Wah Grocery Store, located on East Boston Street, and Basha’s, in downtown Chandler. In the late 1940’s, the town of Chandler had a small population of approximately 3,000 people. The opportunities for employment were not plentiful.  From 1943-1945, he served in the United States Army and received infantry training at Camp Gruber, OK and Fort Ord, CA prior to being transferred as a replacement to the 33rd Infantry Division from Illinois. He served in New Guinea, Moritai, and the Philippines, before being deployed to Japan. He served in Kyoto, Japan for 21/2 years where he was promoted to Staff Sergeant and was responsible for typing military orders and keeping an account of activities such as the Christmas dinner menu. He remembers how respectful the Japanese people treated the American soldiers and how healthy they prepared their food with vegetables, fish, and chicken. He recalls when he contracted Malaria during his tour of duty in the jungles. After the war, Lefty served 291/2 years in the National Guard as First Sergeant.

While serving his country during World War II, Lefty sent his paychecks to the woman who raised him, his beloved grandmother, Maria Luisa Bojorquez de Montano. However, Mrs. Montano did not spend the money, instead she purchased Postal Saving Bonds and eventually had enough money to purchase a lot for Lefty on Delaware St., where the post office is now located. Due to his grandmother’s generosity he built a home, and with his bride’s help they furnished their new home.

Lefty graduated from Chandler High School in 1947, and married his sweetheart, Josephine (Noriega) in April 1949 at the original St. Mary’s Catholic Church. His childhood mentor, Father Patterson, performed the wedding ceremony. 

After their marriage, Lefty continued working several jobs throughout his career. Lefty worked as a mailman and served with the National Guard to support his family and to pay for his children’s education. Lefty began his career with the U.S. Postal Service in April 1950. He was the first Hispanic mailman in Chandler. While employed for the post office he recalls his most interesting story was when he delivered a young woman her engagement ring from her fiancé who was stationed overseas in the military.

Lefty was awarded “Best Mail Carrier of the Southwest Region of Arizona” for ten years of distinction – and it involved a free round-trip vacation to San Diego, CA. His typical workday began at 8 a.m. through 3 p.m. and he was responsible for transporting mail by bicycle. After completing his mail route in town, he went to his second job as a bookkeeper for Stuart’s Home Furnishing Store located near Frye Rd. and Arizona Ave. He also worked as a teller for Valley National Bank.  

Throughout the years, Lefty and his wife Josephine have dedicated their lives to the community as volunteers and fundraisers for several St. Mary’s Catholic Church organizations, the Knights of Columbus, and Catholic Daughters. Lefty continues to serve as a Board Member of the Father Patterson Foundation, which approves scholarships to area high school students and he also serves as Treasurer for St. Vincent’s de Paul. Lefty will celebrate his 80th birthday on November 17, 2004. His lifetime achievements have earned him 33 years in the Army National Guard with a Bronze Star, almost one quarter of a century as a Chandler mail carrier, and numerous self-less acts of generosity to his hometown of Chandler, Arizona. He and his wife have four adult children, Dolores, Mary Helen, Cecelia, and Edward. They have eight (8) grandchildren and all reside in Arizona.

Biographical Research and Biography Submitted by Diane L. Brown & Mary Polanco-Gerlach

Lupe and Juan Jose Soto and Pedro and Maria Luisa Montano