Anthony (Tony) Navarro

Date of Birth

July 21st, 1924

Date of Death

July 19th, 2016

Memorial Meeting

Orange Grove Friends Meeting


Anthony “Tony” Navarro was known for his philosophizing and deep thinking on religion and politics. His vibrant voice challenged others and made people think. Tony was born in Gary, Indiana, on July 21, 1924, and died of heart failure on July 19, 2016, after a year’s struggle with Alzheimer's.

Tony’s parents, Diego and Encarnación Navarro, were immigrants from Southern Spain. Upon arriving in the United States in 1916, his father worked as a miner in New Mexico. After bringing his wife to the U.S. in 1923, Diego started a neighborhood grocery store and boarding house in Gary, Indiana. Unfortunately, the couple lost the store in the Great Depression. Tony was the eldest of seven children—Alfonso, Mary, Jim, Rose, Frankie, and Johnnie—none of whom survive him.

After earning his B.A. at Roosevelt University in Chicago with a dual major in Psychology and Anthropology, Tony started graduate work in Experimental Psychology at the University of Texas in Austin. His great uncle had set up the first Experimental Psychology laboratory in Spain, though Tony only learned of this after he had left the graduate program.

Drafted during WWII, Tony was AWOL on more than one occasion. One time, stationed in Texas and eagerly awaiting a promised long leave so he could return home to Indiana, he learned that his leave would be shortened dramatically. Tony had a mind of his own and took the long leave anyway. Naturally, he was disciplined.

Tony was sent to several universities by the military for training. Because he spoke Spanish, French, and some German and Russian, he was employed by the army in the European theater as a translator. A paratrooper, and part of the Band of Brothers, he was not deployed to Europe until after much of the heavy fighting was over. While on the ship from Europe to the Panama Canal, the war in the Pacific ended. Tony’s series of being AWOL delayed his training, but may have saved his life. Tony’s war experience instilled in him a lifelong dislike of the military.

In the early 1950’s, Tony moved to California with his brother Jim and a long-time school friend. He first settled in Paramount and began working for the County of Los Angeles as a building engineer and inspector, roles that he continued in for 15 years.

In 1953, while serving as president of the Spanish Society in Los Angeles, Tony attended the annual Society celebration and met his wife-to-be, Africa “Ricki” Yborra. Ricki was a dancer in her family’s flamenco troupe.

Tony and Ricki were married on June 21, 1954 and had two children, daughter Marie, born October 23, 1955, and son Diego, born January 16, 1957. Marie, a Records Supervisor for the San Bernardino Police Department, married Lee Woodall 30 years ago with whom she has two children, Shauna, 31, and Rhonda, 29. Shauna has two children, Nathan, 11, and Lorelei, 9. Diego, is a professor at Cabrillo College, where he launched a program for high-risk young adults. He has been married to his wife, Lauren, for 32 years and they have two children, Kylin, 26, and Jayden, 21. Tony was close to all of his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.

When he and Ricki bought their family home in Pomona in 1956, he also began teaching building engineering at Mt. SAC community college for a few years.

Tony was a member of Claremont Meeting, which he joined in 1966 to keep his young son Diego out of the draft. Tony appreciated that Quakers did not tell him what to do or how to worship, and he was in strong agreement with their peace testimony. Marie and Diego remember the family driving to Orange Grove Meetinghouse to bring food and share in fellowship with other Quakers when the Meeting harbored AWOLS of the Vietnam War. In the mid-1970s, Tony transferred his membership to Pacific Ackworth Meeting. When that Meeting was laid down, Tony transferred his membership to Orange Grove Meeting.

Tony loved to take his family on trips. When his children were young, the family would travel from Southern California to Indiana every summer. They traveled through Native American reservations, visited many National Parks, and went to almost every state in the continental U.S., except the deep south. He also took his children to Europe to visit family in Spain and France.

In 1968, Tony and his family visited Kathryn and Charles Davis’ Quaker commune in Oakhurst, California, following attendance at their first Pacific Yearly Meeting. During that trip, Tony took his family to Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco. It was the Summer of Love and the family fit right in with their VW van. While Tony may have carried a badge as a building inspector and looked like a member of the establishment, he considered himself part of the counter-culture and a revolutionary. He used to say, “I’m no liberal, I’m a radical!”

Tony quit his job as a building inspector in the early 1970s to live off the land, buying a farm in upstate New York just 24 miles south of the St. Lawrence River. Memories of this phase in Tony’s life bring rounds of laughter to his family. The New York property Tony had purchased was under six feet of snow when he bought it. The relocation to the farm was not a big hit with his wife, Ricki, and the family returned to Pomona six months after arriving in New York. Tony returned to work as a public health inspector for LA County, where he remained until his retirement at age 58.

Tony was an avid reader, devouring anything between two covers. He read anthropology, history, and psychology texts, classic literature, and free local newspapers. Tony loved used book stores and his family is currently looking to find a home for his vast library. Tony was an avid and committed folk dancer up until his late 70s. He would bring recorded folk music and teach folk dancing at Yearly and Quarterly Meetings. He loved bossa nova, flamenco, Motown, and classical music too.

Tony is remembered by family friends. One wrote, “Tony’s philosophizing and deep thinking discussions with my dad were an education in themselves. Most centered-on religion and various political philosophies. I can still hear his intense vibrant voice as he argued his view. I credit my brothers' careers in law and political science to these avid kitchen table discussions. This was a man who made people think, really think in his animated soft spoken way.” Another wrote, “When I got older I knew how strongly opinionated he was politically and that he held strong views on about everything. During visits, I listened (for hours) as he ‘explained’ current events.”

Tony was a vibrant character in his family and will be remembered for his passion and love of family, politics, and social justice.