Throughout his life Pablo Galarza Santiago worked hard in order to support himself and the family he treasured. He was a man of great strength whose days are an inspiring tale of what life can bring if you are determined enough to persevere through times of trial. Pablo was able to make the most of each moment he was given while bringing so much joy to others in his life. He was blessed to share many years with the love of his life with whom he built a family who will be his lasting legacy.
During the early part of the 1900s, great changes were in store for the citizens of Puerto Rico. In 1900 Puerto Rico became an incorporated territory, and the English language was being promoted in pursuit of a policy of “Americanization.” It was during this time of change that Manuel Galarza was deeply saddened with the death of his wife who left him with three children. He found love again with a woman who had worked for him and his wife, helping to care for the children and the house. Her name was Catalina Santiago, and they married after their relationship blossomed into true love. They went on to have 11 children together, and it was on September 13, 1913, that they welcomed the birth of their son, Pablo. Pablo was born as one of the middle of the fourteen children in his family in Barceloneta, Puerto Rico. His hometown is located in the northern region, bordering the Atlantic Ocean, north of Florida, east of Arecibo and west of Manati. His father supported his large family as a sugar cane field worker while his mother was a homemaker who was certainly quite busy in her duties.
Pablo remained in Barceloneta throughout his formative years, an area that is well-known for its blue sand beaches due to the high iron content found in the sand. He used his traditional name of Pablo Galarza Santiago and was raised in the family home that was quite rustic by today’s standards. It had no electricity and no running water with the closest fresh water supply a mile walk away. Pablo attended local schools until the eighth grade at which time he worked with his father in the sugar cane fields for a time.
Also of great significance during this time was Pablo’s introduction to a young woman with whom he would share an abiding love. This was an exciting time for Pablo. His new love was a woman named Leonor Mendez and after establishing a relationship, they were married in Barceloneta. Pablo had given his bride-to-be eight dollars with which to purchase a wedding dress. She came back not only with a dress, but with change as well!
Although WWII had been escalating since September of 1939, the United States didn’t officially become engaged in the war until December 8, 1941, in response to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Pablo left both his work in the fields and his new bride and entered the Army. He was in for a surprise, however, when he found out that the person who had united him in marriage with Leonor had never registered the marriage. Instead, he had gambled away the registration fee Pablo had given him. This left Pablo and Leonor to get re-married so that they would be officially married when he entered the service. During his time in the military Pablo served in the Panama Canal during WWII.
Not long after he was discharged, Pablo moved with his family to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1952. Life was understandably a bit different in Wisconsin than it had been in Puerto Rico. The people there did not understand the custom in Pablo’s culture when a child uses both his father’s and mother’s last name, so all of his official paperwork listed his name as Pablo G. Santiago from that point forward. Pablo and Leonor moved to Wisconsin with their seven children and were blessed with two additional children once there. He worked hard to support his family as a general laborer at Grede Foundries, Inc. which provides castings for many products worldwide. In keeping with his strong work ethic, Pablo even worked in his spare time. He could often be found renting out houses that he put the time and effort into fixing up. Pablo also greatly enjoyed cooking and was famous for his rice and beans as well as his pernil, a roasted pork shoulder dish.
Later in life Pablo began to struggle with some health issues. In 2000 he suffered a stoke that left him with little use of his left side. During many of the years that followed, Pablo was cared for by his children until he needed more care than they could provide. At that time, Pablo moved to a nursing home where he could receive the more hands-on care that his health demanded.
In so many ways Pablo Santiago greatly brightened the days of so many within his reach. He fully embraced the concept that there are no free rides in life, if you want something, you need to work for it. Pablo certainly did work hard although he was a dedicated family man as well. He was always able to adapt to the world around him even when storm clouds loomed overhead. Pablo leaves behind a strong legacy for the generations that follow him. He will be dearly missed and warmly remembered.
Pablo G. Santiago died on December 28, 2009. His beloved wife, Leonor preceded him in death. Pablo’s family includes his children, Carmen (Cristobal Alberio) Galarza, Rojelio Galarza, Minin (the late Adrian) Quiles, Eva (Ferdinand Santiago) Galarza, Wilfredo (Linda Mae) Galarza, Milta (the late Raul) Lara, Pablo (Kathy and the late Debra) Galarza, Gladys Galarza, and David (Rosa) Galarza; surviving siblings, Eduardo (Mary Luz) Galarza and Paublina (the late Alejo) Torres, over 50 grandchildren, countless great-grandchildren and many other relatives. Please join the family at a Funeral Service celebrating Pablo Santiago’s life on Monday, January 4th, 2010 at Suminski / Weiss Funeral Home, 1901 N. Farwell Ave, Milwaukee. Viewing will take place from 10:0 AM until the time of the Funeral Service at 1:00 PM. Following the viewing and services, Pablo will be laid to rest at Wisconsin Memorial Park – Brookfield, Wisconsin. Dinner and a time to reminisce will follow the burial services at the Cooper Park Pavilion, 8701 W. chambers Street, Milwaukee.
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