BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Hundreds gathered Monday night at New Life Church in Bakersfield for a public funeral service for well-known Bakersfield businessman Jose Arredondo.
Event coordinators called the service a celebration of Arredondo's life, giving those who attended time to remember Arredondo, as well as work to keep his legacy of giving back to the community going strong.
"It means a lot because I'm very grateful and I want to say thank you to everybody for the love. The love they had for him," said Laura Arredondo, Jose's sister.
Laura says the reality of her brother's death still hasn't set in.
"Because that was my dearest, one of my dearest brothers and I'm gonna miss him like crazy. It's really hard, it's really hard," she said.
Monday's public service at New Life Church included heartfelt video tributes, and words from friends and family. The event happened as Mexican authorities announced an arrest in Arredondo's murder case.
The service took place on what would have been Arredondo's 60th birthday.
"I think the best time we had was when we played golf, and after we'd just drink but I don't think there's gonna be that kind of person in the future," said Samuel Arredondo, Jose's son.
Friends say Jose always gave back to his community, never forgetting where he came from. Arredondo would often hold school supply drive around this time of year, as a way to support the often struggling communities around his businesses. On Monday, organizers collected items that can help keep that legacy alive.
"He was so set on making sure that kids were taken care of, and so the backpacks to him meant that we could send a kid to school ready, with a confidence to go back to school prepared with school supplies and backpacks so that they could start school with a smile," said Camilla Ranger, a pastor at new life church.
"I think today I knew and I saw people a lot and I knew that baba, my dad, was a very good person and he reached a lot of people and gave a lot of help," Samuel said.
Anyone can donate backpacks or school supplies to the New Life Church southwest campus at 4201 Stine Road any time until the morning of Saturday, August 3.