Juan (John) R. Figueroa was born June 18, 1925, in Phoenix to Juan and Adela Robles Figueroa. He was the fifth of seven children including Roberto, Virginia, Gilberto, Alicia, Miguel and Jose. In an era of the Great Depression, Juan remembered the family’s struggles and told of his experiences standing in soup lines and collecting food rations. Work was hard to come by and his parents sought new opportunities for their family. So they decided to return to the Gila
Valley and relocated to Solomonville when he was 5 years old. He attended school in Solomonville until his 9th grade year.
He had a very busy schedule during school days. John delivered the Arizona Republic every morning, went to school, worked as a delivery boy after school, and then he would return to the school to work as a janitor for a small wage and to receive lunches while at school. In 1942, John went to Santa Ana, California to live with his brother Gilbert and his sister, Virginia with the hopes of continuing his education. Because of World War II, John decided to go to work
instead. He worked several odd jobs such as picking oranges, working in the canneries and on a
construction crew, but was laid off when it was discovered that he was only 17 years old. During these years Juan developed many traits such as hard work, perseverance and resilience. He returned to Solomonville in October of 1942 and although only 17, he enlisted in the United
He proudly served for 3 years of which 2 ½ were spent abroad. One of the distinctions of his years of service was that he served on the U.S.S. Maryland, which saw more action in the South Pacific than any other battleship. His ship was damaged by torpedoes and Kamikazes. It was through these experiences that Juan developed lifelong skills such as camaraderie,
dedication and loyalty not only to his family, but to his peers and to his country. John started
dating Priscilla Quiroz when he was home on leave in 1945. They continued their courtship via
mail soon discovered they had both found the loves of their life. He was honorably discharged in March 1946.
Shortly after his discharge, he and Priscilla were married on June 15, 1946 at Our Lady of
Guadalupe church in Solomon. The couple enjoyed 63 ½ years together before Priscilla’s death
in 2010. They moved to Morenci where they raised their family (Rebecca Navarrete, Mary Lou Peralta, John Figueroa and Carol Navarrete) for the next 30 years. He was assigned to
work in the smelter division, which although not a glamorous job by any means, provided a
decent income for him and his family for 39 years. John worked his way into the hierarchy of
the smelter. He started out as a laborer, moved up to a Foreman’s position and then went on to
become a General Foreman of the Smelter Reverbs. Juan served as supervisor to many fine men and women and was often greeted by former co-workers in his retirement years. He was always commended not only for his hard work, but for his ability to work beside his employees and to be a fair and compassionate supervisor.
Because he had been unable to complete his education, John decided to take GED courses. Although he said this was one of the most difficult things he did in his life was to go back to school and the books. It was a proud moment for him to complete his GED in 1967. At that point he realized the importance of education and instilled that in his children and grandchildren.
Juan and Priscilla believed strongly in community involvement. While living in Morenci, they were member of Lloyd C. Hill American Legion Post #28. They were active supporters of their children and grandchildren in the sports they played and transported many of their children’s classmates to away games. John was a Pee Wee and Little League baseball coach touching the lives of many “Dodger” youngsters. He was also a member of the Morenci Fire Department, Holy Cross Parish and the Beneficio Propio. Both were active advocates of the Girls’ and Boys’ State programs.
John had purchased two lots in Solomon in 1957 and had been a long sought dream of theirs to return to the Gila Valley. In 1978,they moved back to what would be their home for the next 38 years. They continued their community involvement in several realms. Juan has been a member of the American Legion for 65 years and was instrumental in establishing Lopez/Hernandez Post #95 and helped build the Post home. Juan was nominated by Lopez/Hernandez Post #95 as Legionnaire of the Year in 1986. He went on to compete and won at both the area and department levels. He served as a member of the Solomon School District Governing Board, was a member of the VFW, St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church and the Beneficio Propio of both Greenlee and Graham Counties. He held American Legion offices at the local and District level and also served as Grand Marshall of the Graham County Fourth of July parade in 2013.
Above all else, Juan valued family. His children were fortunate to return some of what he has given them by being at his side to fill the void of his beloved Priscilla in 2010. He is survived by his children Becky Navarrete (Ernie), Mary Lou Peralta (Angel), John Figueroa (Sandra) and
Carol Navarrete (Tommy). His legacy continues with 12 grandchildren, 22 great-grandchildren
and 6 great-great-grandchildren. He also leaves to mourn his sister Alicia Martinez, Mike
Figueroa, Joe Figueroa (Virginia) and was predeceased by his parents Juan and Adela Figueroa,
his wife Priscilla, his sister Virginia and brothers Roberto and Gilbert.
The family would like to express their sincere appreciation to Tammy and the staff of Hospice of the Gila Valley and Spencer and his staff at Beehive Homes for their genuine care and concern for Juan during the past two years and Mrs. Judy Warren for sharing weekly communion and prayer with Dad. You have all become like family to us and we are thankful for your support. Donations can be made in Juan’s name to Gila Valley Hospice or Beehive Homes.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Saturday morning, December 17, 2016, at 11:00 a.m., at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church by Rev. Robert Rodriguez. Committal with military honors conferred by the Gila Valley Veterans Honor Guard and the United States Naval Honor Guard will follow in the Safford Cemetery.
A Rosary will be prayed Saturday morning, at 10:00 a.m., at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church by Deacon Carl Vessels.
The family will receive friends Saturday morning from 9:00 a.m. until 10:00 a.m., also at the church.
A bereavement reception will follow at the American Legion Lopez/Hernandez Post #95 in Solomon after the committal service.
Online condolences may be offered at viningfuneralhome.com.
Arrangements are entrusted to Vining Funeral Home.