Joaquin “Jack” Cabrera


Jack Cabrera, 60, passed away peacefully on Saturday, June 23, 2018, at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital surrounded by his devoted wife, loving children and many family members, including the spiritual strength of this beloved mother, sharing love and support.

Jack came from humble beginnings in a small village in Guanajuato, Mexico.  Through family struggles, they immigrated to the U.S. in 1963 when he was 5 along with his parents, Joaquin and Albina Cabrera, and 3 other siblings.  The family established residence in Davenport, CA, and lived on the agricultural ranch where his father worked in farm labor.  Jack was the eldest brother of 8 siblings – 4 boys and 4 girls. He took the “BIG BROTHER” role very seriously and was the strong protector if anyone wanted to “mess with” his family.  The Cabreras lived a very simple, yet close-knit family life and established life-long friendships in the small community.

Jack attended Pacific Elementary School, Mission Hill Junior High School, and Santa Cruz High School where he graduated in 1977. As a teenager, Jack spent summers and weekends working in the fields alongside his father.  He was young when he developed a passion for auto mechanics and classic cars. He saved money for his first car and started “burning rubber” all over Santa Cruz County. No engine was too loud or too fast for Jack to handle, and a midnight drag race at the “4-Lanes” up the coast Highway 1 was always a good time. His favorite movies were “Aloha Bobby and Rose, “Gone in 60 Seconds” and “American Graffiti” of which he frequently imitated the gruff, raspy voice of “Wolfman Jack” when he spoke. Cruising around Santa Cruz’s West Side cliffs, Lighthouse Point and the Boardwalk with his “Greaser” buddies, then later meeting for drinks and a game of pool at the local bars created many wonderful memories for Jack.  He often reminisced about those times and shared stories with anyone who would listen, especially his children.  With his quirky sense of humor and embellishing the story here and there, he would keep you rolling in laughter.  Jack had a good time everywhere he went…house parties, dance clubs, car shows and family fiestas.  He had a reputation of being the “Life Of The Party” and could dance all night. He never passed up an invitation to dance to Funky Soul, R&B and Classic Rock songs, and his dance moves were contagious. He especially loved dancing to “Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love” by Barry White with his beautiful wife, Esther. Jack embraced his Mexican roots and traditions, and it gave him much pleasure to hold his wife tightly as they danced to a good “Nortena” song by Ramon Ayala.

After high school, Jack started working for Lone Star Cement Plant in Davenport and helped his parents buy a home in Watsonville in 1979.  He left Lone Star after a severe burn accident that required occupational rehabilitation, and he received job training as a diesel mechanic.  In 1984, while cruising around Watsonville with his loud music blaring, he met the love of his life, Esther.  He was persistent in their courtship, but she knew she could not resist his charm and good looks.  They were married in 1986 and moved to Salinas in 1990 with their 3-year-old little girl.  Having Esther’s love was the best thing he could’ve ever asked for, and his eyes lit up whenever she was around.  He knew she was in it for the long haul and that he was a very lucky man.

Jack became a family man, and they had 2 more children.  His 3 kids were his pride and joy, and although he was the tough disciplinarian, they always gave Jack the love and respect that he had always strived to live by. Jack had been through so many happy, exciting, dangerous, tragic and sad life experiences, especially the loss of his beloved father and 3 brothers before him. He used these experiences to teach his children everything he could to prepare them for the ups and downs of real life. Jack was at ease and comforted that his beautiful children are now grown and living full and joyful lives. His eldest daughter, Erica, is proud to have Jack’s personality in every way.  His middle son, Jesse, has the comical side of Jack and can imitate his exact dance moves and also feels the adrenaline rush of “peeling out” on his truck.  His youngest daughter, Elise, inherited the most sweet and kind side of Jack.  His awesome children loved Jack with all their hearts, and they demonstrated all of their best qualities, especially strength and courage, at Jack’s bedside as he peacefully passed on.  Every father would be lucky and so proud to have been surrounded by such a loving and caring family.

Jack started having health problems due to Diabetes a few years ago, which opened up the opportunity to care for his beautiful little granddaughter, Elexia (now 7).  She loved her “PAPA” so much and she had him wrapped around her little finger and he knew it.  Jack enjoyed working on cars at his home and having a “cold one” with old and new friends.  His charisma and contagious personality drew people together, and he had great friendships in both Santa Cruz and Monterey counties…but everyone knew not to get on his “bad” side.

Jack is survived by his precious wife of 31 years, Esther; his children, Erica (David) Martinez, Jesse, and Elisa Cabrera; his granddaughter, Elexia Parker; his beloved mother, Albina Cabrera; sisters, Grace (Tony) Jaime, Mary Cabrera, Rocky (Mike) Keith, and Elvia Belinda Cabrera; several nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins.  He will “Fly Like An Eagle” to reunite in heaven with his beloved father, Joaquin Cabrera (2008) and the CABRERA BROTHERS, Adrian “Jimmy” (2010), Jose “Joe” (2006) and Cesar (2014), all expert mechanics working on an awesome “God Mobile” and partying, of course. He is also preceded in death by his brother-in-law, Rudy Dominguez and sister-in-law, Jessica Rodriguez, who he loved and missed very much.

Jack’s recent illness and 7-week hospitalization period took a real toll on his body. Although he had always been big and strong throughout his life, his time was cut short and he was gone too soon.  He will be sorely missed by everyone who knew him well. The Cabrera Family would like to thank everyone who took time out of their busy lives to share a special moment with Jack in the hospital. The family firmly believes that Jack could hear all the inspiring words of encouragement, faith and hope that were spoken to him during the last 11 days of his wonderful life.  As a gesture of love and respect for Jack, please give his mother a hug every once in a while, as she has endured the utmost pain and sorrow as well.

Family and friends are invited to attend a viewing Monday, July 2, 2018, from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. with a recitation of the Holy Rosary at 6:00 p.m. at Mehl’s Colonial Chapel.  A Mass will be celebrated Tuesday, July 3, 2018, at 10:00 a.m. at Our Lady Help of Christians (Valley Catholic Church) in Watsonville.  Burial will follow at Valley Public Cemetery.

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