2012 Inductee - Manuel Lopez

2012 Inductee - Manuel Lopez


Manuel Lopez was born in the small town of Pacoima in Los Angeles County. Two days later moved to Selma where he lived with his grandparents, who had 13 children of their own, until after graduating from high school.

Manuel’s grandfather had a small business supplying tin cans used as planters to local nurseries in the winter months and was a farm labor contractor from spring to fall. School vacations were spent helping his grandfather. Because his family was very large he says it’s almost unfair to call it “work” because all of the kids actually had fun working.

After graduating from high school, Manuel joined the Air Force. He was able to see people of different cultures with different beliefs and enormously different values. Within a week of being discharged, he got a job at the California Department of Water Resources but quit to attend Fresno City College on the G.I. Bill. Manuel joined a group of students associated with the Fresno area “War on Poverty” organization, a group looking for volunteers to tutor economically-challenged minority freshmen at Edison High School. That was a personally enriching experience. Manuel obtained a Civil Engineering degree from Fresno State and ultimately landed a position that formed the rest of his career, City of Fresno, Deputy City Engineer.

During this time Manuel was very involved in church activities and developed a great working relationship with two other members who saw a real need in the community. The Del Rey Y’s Men Club in Del Rey, California (a small, predominately Mexican-American town east of Fresno) was formed as a branch of the National YMCA. The Club taught boys 12 to 18 years of age how to act responsibly and how to be involved in the community. The Club also helped to improve playgrounds and provided positive activities.

The last major phase of Manuel’s life began when he and his wife moved to San Joaquin County in 1985 when he was appointed the Assistant Public Works Director. He also served as the Interim City of Lathrop Engineer. From 1991 to 1998 he served on the City of Ripon Economic Development Committee, twice as Chairman. Subsequently, in March 2000, Manuel was appointed the County Public Works Director. The same year he served as President of the Sacramento Chapter of the American Public Works Association. Just as he started to enjoy that role, in July 2001, the Board of Supervisors appointed him as San Joaquin County Administrator. The most challenging but enjoyable job possible! He has served 11 years in this position, longer than any of his predecessors. Under the Board of Supervisor’s policy guidance, his role is to facilitate and implement the provision of a multitude of services to 700,000 County residents. One of the primary duties of the position is the development of the County’s annual budget.

Manual and Sylvia have been married for 37 years and have four adult children and seven grandchildren.