Passed Away On: July 21, 2021

Henry P Solorio died in Hollister on July 21, 2021. He was surrounded by the family he loved, and who loved him.

Henry was born in Lemoore California to Maria Jovita and Jose Maria Solorio, and was baptized at Saint Peter’s Catholic Church. His mother and two younger sisters died when he was quite young. He and his father continued to live in the Central Valley thereafter, where his father worked for the Boston Land Company. Starting when he was ten, Henry traveled up and down the state with his father and brother Ben doing agricultural work. They picked peas in Nipomo, carrots in Soledad, and several crops in Hollister. He then began working for his father, who was sharecropping near Fresno.

As a teenager, Henry moved to Hollister, where he lived with his uncle and aunt, Carlos and Lupe. In 1946 he volunteered for the army, and served for 18 months at Lackland Army Air Force Base in San Antonio. It was a point of pride for him that he never visited the Alamo during his service there. Henry would travel back and forth to San Antonio by train. In some places in the Southwest Mexican Americans were considered white, and in others similar to African Americans. He later recalled moving back and forth between the “white” and “colored” sections of the train depending on which state they were in. While at Lackland, Henry took up boxing. He participated in Golden Gloves for several years after his return to Hollister.

He met his future wife, Jennie Cota, at the Granada movie theater in Hollister in the late 1940s. They were married in 1950. She was the love of his life, and they were married 68 years until her passing in 2018. Henry never left her side.

In 1950, at Jennie’s urging, Henry went to work for Fairview Packing Company in Hollister, which ultimately became Tri-Valley Growers. He moved up in the company to the position of warehouse manager, where he stayed until he retired in the mid-1990s. In the late 1960s he was appointed to the Hollister City Planning Commission. This was the first step in a 19-year career in local politics. Henry eventually was elected to the Hollister City Council, and served a one-year term as mayor.

Henry was one of the first mayors in California to endorse a boycott by the United Farm Workers (UFW), and supported a UFW march in Hollister. He was a founding member of the Mexican American Committee on Education (MACE), and was an active supporter of local women candidates and elected officials. He also served on the county planning commission, and four years on the county board of supervisors. He was the first Mexican American, and first Latino, to serve on the county board, to which he ran unopposed. During his time in local politics, Henry paid close attention to the concerns of his constituents. He played a key role in passing the Board of Supervisors’ resolution that led to the construction of a dam off Union Road that was used for irrigation.

Henry also was actively involved in the Sacred Heart and Saint Benedict parishes, serving on multiple committees, including the planning committee for the construction of the Saint Benedict church building, and worked regularly with Fishes and Loves to provide food and support to immigrant workers. Henry pursued learning throughout his life, and also encouraged education for his children, all five of whom graduated from college. During his career he served as chair for the San Benito High School advisory committee on bi-lingual/bi-cultural education.

Henry was a humble and kind man who never had a bad word for anyone. He was often the first to visit people in the hospital or when they had fallen on hard times. He had a wonderful sense of humor, and enjoyed laughing with his family. Although he was fully bi-lingual in both Spanish and English, one of his joys was throwing out Yiddish phrases: “Oy vey” was a favorite.

Henry was devoted to his family, and especially to his grandchildren. He is survived by his five children: Conrad (Berta), Laura, Gil, Paula and Jenny (Todd); his six grandchildren: Elias, Enrique (Leia), Nancy, Ana Maria (Max F), Maximiliano, and Jovita; and his sister Mickie Solorio Luna (Vince). He was preceded in death by his beloved wife Jennie; his parents; his sisters Maria and Elvira, who passed away in the 1930s; and his brother Ben (Lupe). JoyLynn Diaz and his grandson Max provided him with excellent care in the months before he died. A special thank-you to his cousin Mary Alice Solorio, who always brought him the Sunday bulletin from church as he got older.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Jennie and Henry Memorial Scholarship Fund at the Community Foundation for San Benito County ( Due to the surging COVID-19 Delta Variant, funeral services will be private. A link to a video of the service will be made available afterwards. The family also looks forward to a public celebration of life next spring once the pandemic abates or diminishes.