Funds raised will go toward the creation of a mural to honor Memo.
Thank you, in advance. Our dearest Memo, you inspired beauty, kindness, and community building. Through my 14 years working in National City, you held the integrity of our gente by capturing hundreds of special moments in our civic, personal, and political lives. I beamed around you because you emulated love, generosity, and selflessness. You are a respected and celebrated Purple Heart recipient, community hero, civil rights leader, and genuine man with a heart of gold. You held the pride of our culture and gifted art for generations to enjoy. Through your epic photographic journey in Mexico, you brought our roots home to us. Your public service awakened our generation to continue celebrating, defending, and sculpting a movement and space for public art. You are our "yes" man, our trusted "go to.” You are appreciated and loved tremendously. You inspired me to launch the National City Arts and Culture Collaborative to preserve and grow our city's cultural arts. While you were soft spoken, your imprint on this world is gargantuan. Memo, we send our love and prayers.
We send our deepest condolences to his family. En paz descanse. Presente! In 2012, the National City Chamber of Commerce honored Manuel “Memo” Cavada as the Volunteer of the Year. This award recognized him not only for his commitment to our organization, but most importantly, for his contributions to helping others succeed in business and community affairs. Memo had a long history of unselfish, unrecognized service to National City. His attitude was golden and he never once hesitated to volunteer for community activities, business assistance, or chamber causes.
As the poet, Henry Longfellow once said: “No man or woman is so poor as to have nothing worth giving.” And that is the real power of volunteering. It is something that anyone can do, but not all of us find the time to commit. For those on the receiving end of voluntary assistance, it is often a lifeline. Memo contributed to the regeneration and renewal of organizations, businesses, and the people he came across. In 2015, Memo was honored as a “Latino Champion” by the San Diego Union Tribune. He shared the stage with two other honorees, Roberto Pozos and Daniel Hernandez, two of his dear friends and community activists.
Manuel “Memo” Cavada served four years in the United States Air Force. He received the Purple Heart Medal for being wounded in action during the Vietnam War and numerous other medals while performing duties as a Crew Chief for 552nd Air Force Squadron in Sacramento, CA. Memo taught photography at the Centro Cultural de la Raza in Balboa Park and also served as the Youth Program Director for the Neighborhood House in San Diego.
Memo’s most honorable accomplishments were made while working for non-profits where he developed one of the first programs for the prevention of alcohol abuse among the youth. The program used a revolutionary form of entertainment, puppetry, to convey the message of health issues to the children of the National School District in National City.
Memo was born at the National City Paradise Valley Sanitarium in 1944. He attended and graduated from Kimball Elementary School., National City Jr. High and Sweetwater High Class of 1962. Later, Memo graduated from Sacramento City College and the Glen Fishback School of Photography.
Funny story, at the age of five years old, Memo recalls he stuck a pinto bean in his nose. With his body heat, the bean was cooked and enlarged. He had to be taken back to Paradise Valley Sanitarium for the bean to be removed. Memo shared with us, “For some odd reason, they wanted me to stay.”
His professional trajectory included teaching photography at the Centro Cultural de la Raza in Balboa Park; Served as Youth Program Director for the Neighborhood House in San Diego; Director of Alcohol Programs for the MAAC Project under the direction of Roger Cazares; and owned and operated Creative Images Photography Studio in National City for over 30 years.
According to Memo, his second honorable accomplishment was serving Sweetwater High School for 25 years as their school photographer. Along with working with the school yearbook, he devoted his time to career counseling high school seniors during their visit to Creative Images Studio. At the average of 600 seniors per year for 25 years, he served 15,000 Sweetwater High Seniors.
Memo shared with us, “Volunteering has been a lifelong commitment, it was not part of my career plan…it is just part of my way of life. It has always been my nature to do well and to take care of our people. Much satisfaction is gained by the Joy of Giving.” In 2012, he was was able to provide for: National City Lyons, National City Casa de Salud, National City Christmas in July Golf, National City Historical Society, National City Health Fair, Taste of National City, National City Schools Art Contest, First Christian Church in National City, and Las Pastorelas Christmas theater for Bill Virchis. He also volunteered for MANA, a women’s mentoring group, Chicano Park Steering Committee, Latina Business Women Association, a women’s business group, Cesar Chavez Youth Club, and the SDSU Latino Business group.
Memo served on the National City Public Art Council, National City Old Town Reunion, National City Salute to the Navy Planning Committee and photographed each of the National City Chamber of Commerce’s annual events. He was a staple and historian covering our Annual Installation Dinner, International Mariachi Festival, Career Pathways Job Fair, Kile Morgan Golf Tournament, Automobile Heritage Day, Salute to Navy Luncheon, Annual Christmas Celebration, Bayside Brew and Spirits Festival, and was a major contributor to developing our websites, and National City Tourism Marketing District campaign.
While his loss is felt deeply by so many, his sprit will live in us and future generations. His genuine love for the world attests to the beauty of humanity and our ability to come together for a mutual cause. Enjoy this Sesame Street video: https://youtu.be/dB4hP-QM5Q0