Paying Proper Respect
Expanded from the 12-11-2005 Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune
Updated 3-19-2006

"It is how we use our lives that determines what kind of men we are"
– César Chávez

RENO — A memorial mass will be celebrated Monday, Dec. 12, at St. Therese the Little Flower Church in honor of labor leader Federico "Kiko" Reyes who died on Dec. 6 at Washoe Medical Center.

Reyes, 46, succumbed during surgery from injuries suffered in an accidental fall from the roof of his Reno home. He was born on March 3, 1959, in San Francisco del Rincon, Guanajuato, Mexico. He is survived by his wife, Carmen, their four sons Federico, Jr., Jose, Victor and Aldo and two grandchildren.

Visitation is scheduled from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Saturday and 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Sunday at Ross, Burke & Knobel Mortuary at 2155 Kietzke Lane. Mass of the Resurrection will be celebrated at 11:00 a.m. at St. Therese the Little Flower, 875 E. Plumb Lane. Burial will follow immediately afterward at Mountain View Cemetery.

IN A HAPPIER TIME —Kiko Reyes, at front in white, celebrates the signing of union contracts with the Reno Hilton and the Flamingo Hilton-Reno at a picnic in Reno's Idlewild Park on July 23, 2001. Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees Union Local 86 Secretary-Treasurer Scott MacKenzie stands at back left. At back right is D. Taylor, who has since been elevated to executive secretary-treasurer of the now-merged locals. MacKenzie is now executive director of the State of Nevada Employees Association. ( photo)

Reyes was a 25-year member and longtime organizer for Culinary Workers Union Local 226.

"No single person is more responsible for workers having the union in Reno than Kiko Reyes," said D. Taylor, Local 226 Secretary-Treasurer. Taylor credited Reyes’ hard work and skills for Reno Hilton workers winning full family health care for $30.00 per month in their last contract. Taylor praised Reyes' interpersonal abilities, noting that Reyes was well known in the local Latino community and "knew more people on a first name basis in Reno than anyone."

"Brother Reyes did not have life insurance," stated Nevada State AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Danny Thompson. "I am urging every union in the state to make a contribution to assist his family," he added.

Anyone wishing to contribute may do so at any branch of Bank of America in Nevada. Account number 0050-1112-8976 is in the name of Carmen Reyes. Donations may also be mailed to the Kiko Reyes Memorial Fund, attn: Accounting Department, c/o Culinary Workers Union Local 226, 1630 S. Commerce Street, Las Vegas, Nevada 89102. Checks should be made payable to the Carmen Reyes account, no. 0050-1112-8976.

Federico "Kiko" Reyes moved to Reno from Mexico. He was employed for many years as a cook by Circus-Circus Hotel-Casino. He became a shop steward with Hotel/Restaurant Employees Local 86 (now Culinary Union 226) and a leader in the union's successful campaign to organize the hotel. Reyes moved up as a key member of the union’s negotiating team and served on the local’s executive board. In 1994, he left Circus-Circus and joined the union’s staff as an organizer. In that capacity, he was instrumental in organizing the Reno Hilton and Flamingo Hilton-Reno.

Reyes was a well known leader in Reno’s Latino community and started the city’s first Mexican soccer league.

"Reyes dedicated his life to his belief that all workers deserved to be treated with dignity and respect," the union said in an official statement. "He will be greatly missed by his family, the community, and his union brothers and sisters."

Reyes' death represents the third major blow to northern Nevada trade unionism this year. In February, Alliance for Workers Rights Director Tom Stoneburner, 60, a colleague of Reyes at Circus Circus, was felled by a heart attack. In 1994, Stoneburner, led his fellow guards in winning the first hotel-casino security staff election in state history.

In May, Miguel Contreras, 52, executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor since 1996, was also lost to a heart attack. Contreras served as business manager of Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Local 86 in Reno before relocating to southern California. He helped welcome United Farmworkers leader César Chávez to Reno in 1986. César Chávez Day has become annual event in northern Nevada.

Vaya con dios.


     Nevada's largest newspaper, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, still gives a few lines to local decedents. The Reno Gannett-Journal now charges for everything. If you are poor and die, your passing goes unnoticed, violating the precepts of most religions as well as the journalist's primary responsbility to accurately report the first draft of history. FIGHT BACK! Join the campaign to do something about it.

SPEAKING FOR THE DEAD. The above obituary for a little giant named Kiko needs to be magneted to refrigerator doors. Newspapers are the first draft of history. Recounting the lives of those who pass from our community is part of that very important process.

Regular readers know my feelings about the macabre practice of many newspapers (not including this one) of charging families to print obituaries. When the Reno Gannett-Journal began dredging the dead for dross, I called to find out the new rules. I was told that if the departed was a person of prominence, the news department might write a story for free. Otherwise, the paper would run a single sprinkling of words, above which there would be a charge, photos extra.

Today, RGJ obits are placed through the advertising department and written by amateurs. When I sent in a story about the prominent Mr. Contreras, the response was "do you want to place it?" Meaning money. I wouldn't pay the tribute.

Back before the RGJ went payola, the wife of a union friend died. He submitted her obituary (which she wrote) to both the Reno and Carson City papers. The Nevada Appeal ran it. The RGJ refused because it mentioned that they had chosen not to have children. I don't know what they'd do today when death notices require money but movie times are published free.

Between the César Chávez quote and the "vaya con dios," the above is a textbook obituary. It gives the pertinent facts in the first three paragraphs, which enhances chances of publication. It is also impersonal and non-editorial, save for the quotes from individuals.

So many paid obits omit important material. It's great that Aunt Tillie loved her poodle, but where and when was she born? Education? What about her marching for women's right to vote? The RGJ even published an obit awhile back without the name of the deceased. Who the hell was Mo or Cletus or Jacknife of whatever the hell his real name? Not only would his friends want to know, but so does history, dammit.

Clip this column to show people how to write a proper, respectful and useful obituary, paid or not.

The dead and the living will appreciate it.

ADIOS. Former U.S. Sen. Eugene McCarthy, D-Minn., died last week at 89. He was second only to FDR as our greatest political leader of the 20th Century. I'll remind everyone why in a future column, starting with McCarthy's still accurate but politically incorrect statement that there was nothing wrong with the U.S. tax code in 1968.

Vaya con dios, senator.

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Copyright © 2005, 2006 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 37-year Nevadan and editor of Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.


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