Arturo Velasquez, whose jukebox business in on Ashland Avenue here in Back of the Yards, died Friday at home. He was 93 years old. The Tribune obituary on him recounts his work with the Peace and Education Coalition of Back of the Yards, as well as his service on the board of the City Colleges of Chicago. The West Side Technical Institute was formally renamed the Arturo Velasquez West Side Technical Institute in his honor in 2007.
Velasquez was born in the Mexican state of Jalisco and grew up in Chinatown, where he first put a jukebox in a taco shop. Thus was born the business that made him a wealthy and well-known member of the Latino community for many decades. He was still going to his office this year, according to the obituary.
I was unable to attend his funeral, but others I know who went told me it was quite a send-off. Seventeen priests concelebrated the funeral Mass at St. Rita of Cascia, led by Fr. Bruce Wellems of Holy Cross/IHM. Mayor Daley attended, along with a full house in a very large church.
One of his children, Carmen Velasquez, is also an especially well-known force in the community. She founded the Alivio Medical Center, which provides culturally sensitive health services to the Latino community.
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