Soul's Name


Date of Obituary

1999 December 31

Funeral Cortege Honors Ruth Galindo -- Concord Dona / Direct descendant of city’s founder

Erin Hallissy, Chronicle Staff Writer

Dec. 31, 1999

CONCORD -- With a ceremony that evoked California’s Spanish past, the body of the last direct descendant of Concord’s founding father was drawn through town in a solemn funeral cortege yesterday.

As church bells tolled and mourners watched from the sidewalks, the casket of Ruth Galindo, who died on Christmas at the age of 89, was placed into a glass-sided Victorian hearse, drawn by two black horses and driven by a woman wearing a lace mantilla and a man in a bowler hat.

Before the hearse rode an honor guard of four “soldados” in 18th century Spanish attire carrying the flags of the United States, Mexico, Spain and a millennium flag.

Behind it were two men, one playing the role of Capt. Juan Bautista de Anza and the other Lt. Joaquin Moraga, wearing exact copies of the dress uniform Anza wore in 1775.

Slowly, the honor guard led the casket in a procession around Todos Santos Plaza -- Concord’s original town square -- which is bounded on one side by Salvio Street, named for Galindo’s great-great grandfather, Don Salvio Pacheco.

Then, with the crowd of about 400 gathered behind it, the hearse led the funeral cortege for three blocks to Queen of All Saints Catholic Church -- which was built on land donated by Pacheco -- for a funeral Mass.

“By everything that has happened this morning, one gets the sense of the passing of an era,” said the Rev. Michael Cunningham. “Ruth Galindo and her whole family embodied the richness of this great long tradition that we commemorate and celebrate this morning.”

That era began decades before California was a state. Galindo’s forefathers were members of the first colonizing expedition that Anza led in 1775. On that expedition, 268 people settled in various parts of the Bay Area.

Don Salvio Pacheco’s grandfather was a soldier in Anza’s expedition. About 1828, Don Salvio petitioned for a land grant, and in 1834 he was granted almost 18,000 acres known as Monte del Diablo, which now includes Concord and some surrounding areas. Later, the family donated much land to the government for roads and public buildings, and in 1868 the town was named Todos Santos, or All Saints. Soon after, the name was changed to Concord.

Galindo was the last surviving member of the founding family. She had two siblings who both died without having children. Galindo, who was a Spanish teacher at Mount Diablo High School for 34 years, never married.

But Galindo ensured her legacy would survive. Always interested in the past, she was a founding member of the Concord Historical Society. Her family house on Amador Street, the Francisco Galindo home, is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The house was built in 1856 for Don Francisco Galindo and his wife, Maria Dolores Manuela Pacheco, Don Salvio’s second daughter. Ruth Galindo lived in the house until she became too ill in recent years. She has given it to the city.

For years, schoolchildren would stop by on field trips.

“We always went to Miss Galindo’s house and she’d come out on the porch,” said Mary Ehmke, a third-grade teacher at Mountain View Elementary School who showed up early yesterday to participate in the funeral procession. “The children really felt a connection with the history of Concord when they talked to her. I’ll miss that.”

Concord Mayor Helen Allen said at the funeral that Galindo “brought Spanish tradition, language and culture to the youth of Concord” through her teaching.

“Ruth will always be known as a gracious person who accomplished many things,” Allen said.

Bud Stewart, Concord’s former city manager and a friend of Galindo’s for more than 40 years, said he thought the unique funeral cortege was an appropriate tribute for a woman who was interested and committed to preserving the memory of the past.

The cortege was put together by the Amigos de Anza, which in partnership with the National Park Service manages and develops the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail, which has been designated one of 16 National Millennium Trails.

“If you wanted to design the perfect lady to epitomize your community, she’d be the person,” Stewart said. “She was always the gracious hostess and more. She was our link to our history.”

Published by

San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco, California



History-GALINDO Ruth