April 29, 1927 - February 6, 2021
Peter Castro came into this world on April 29, 1927, in Aguilar, Colorado. The first-born of Juanita (“Jenny”) and John Peter Castro, he entered life at their home, at the address “three blocks from the post office.” His father was a coal miner who also played the bass in dance bands on week-end. The family moved among various mining towns including Haybro and the Pinnacle mine. Peter was soon joined by siblings Hector, later known as “Cas,” Eleanor, and John Richard, called “Dick. When Peter was in third grade, his father became severely ill, “went into the hospital, and never came back.” The memory of this loss would still bring him to tears as an adult. Mother Jenny, being unable to support her four children, brought the family to her father’s farm, then moved to Denver, where she had many friends. Jenny found work, but often had to leave the children without an adult to care for them during the day. At these times Peter was in charge of his younger siblings. Social services became involved and the children ended up in orphanages for a time. Peter and Cas were together in one institution, and Eleanor and Dick in another, as Dick was not of school age. Although Dick cannot remember much of his orphanage experience, Peter and Hector enjoyed their institutional time in many ways. When Jenny secured steady employment at the Russell Stover candy company, she was able to take all the children home. Many years later, Peter confessed to the family that he and Cas had been upset at leaving their orphanage, as tap-dancing lessons were to begin the next day. After turning 18, he enlisted in the United States Navy and served 1 year beginning in July 1945 and ending in August 1946. He did not see any action, although he did have 10 weeks’ training on the submarine USS Bream. Upon receiving an honorable discharge from the Navy, Peter returned to Denver, but could not find work. His mother’s brother, Albert Alcala, persuaded him to come to California, where he lived with “Al,” his wife Jessica, known as “Jay,” and their young son Richard. Ultimately Al convinced the whole family to move west, although Cas was recuperating from a boiler explosion at his job, and remained with an aunt until he was able to join them on his own. While Jenny’s entire family lived with the Alcala’s, Jay gave birth to their daughter, Michele. Eventually Jenny bought her own house on the same street, Fruitridge Road in Sacramento. Peter secured a position with the State of California Department of Justice. He worked there for forty years, learning the skills of a fingerprint technician, taking night classes, and attending seminars (even one given by the FBI!) and ultimately retiring at the level of Administrator II. He developed “the Castro Process,” a method of transmitting fingerprints by satellite, and even traveled to other states to present his plan. While working at the state, Peter met his first true love, Miriam Irene Hopkins. Their state buildings were across the street from each other in downtown Sacramento. Miriam “fell in love” with him the first time she saw him step out of an elevator, and they were formally introduced by mutual friends at a unit softball game shortly thereafter. Peter and Miriam married in a civil service in Gardnerville, Nevada, on December 23, 1949, accompanied by a few friends and family. A year or so after their first child, Linda Irene, was born in 1951, they moved from their small house on “I” street to Ardmore Road in Sacramento, where they also welcomed home their only son, Steven Craig, three years after Linda. Their circles of friends included those from each one’s work place and all the neighbors on Ardmore Road, many of whom attended the same church, St. Philomene’s Catholic Church on Bell Avenue. Later they attended Presentation Parish after it was built, which was closer to their home. Peter and Miriam had remarried in the church and both Steven and Linda attended Catholic school until 1963, when they moved to South Land Park area to be closer to his Uncle Al and family. In the late seventies the Castros moved to a lovely home in Cameron Park after Uncle Al moved to El Dorado Hills. Peter and Miriam had 49 beautiful and loving years together, filled with happy family times, lovable pets, the weddings of both their children and the births of all their grandchildren. Family trips included several summer vacations in Aptos and a memorable camper trip (that included Grandma Jenny) in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Newport Beach, Oregon, became a favorite place to go when both children had their own families. Steven married Margaret (“Peggy”) Mary Elizabeth Kelly in 1979, and Linda married Philip Klement Spartz in 1987. Peter and Miriam’s last very memorable trip was to London, England. After Miriam died of cancer in January 1998, Peter received a commiseration call from a former co-worker at DOJ. A widow for eight years, Carolyn Townsend not only had worked at DOJ, her daughter had been Peter’s secretary there. The two lonely souls began dating and were married in May of that same year. Carolyn’s children Donna Nicolaus and Jimmy Townsend were added to the family along with Donna’s husband Danny. Peter and Carolyn enjoyed their new relationship, traveling to Mexico with Al and Jay, taking a trip to Europe, and their last trip together, an Alaskan cruise. After several moves they settled in Elk Grove, Carolyn’s home town since she was 16. Peter had been developing dementia which progressed slowly and Carolyn kept watch over him until her own health began to decline mysteriously before her 80th birthday. Her ability to walk had decreased gradually and she began to have falls. After one of these falls a head CT revealed she was suffering from a rare form of dementia which eventually relegated her to a wheelchair and ended in her death on November 18, 2019. Peter and she had been moved to assisted living in Fairfield in order to be near her daughter the year before and after her death he declined rapidly. Phil and Linda began to visit daily from 3 to 8 hours, as he needed much more care than assisted living could provide. They began to seek out a good residence that was closer to their home in Davis. Long daily visits by Phil and Linda were cut short by the restrictions due to the Covid Pandemic just as they found Solano Life House. The move was delayed a few weeks because of the virus, but once there they were allowed to visit at the picture window, using phones, daily. Later Peter was put on hospice due to bladder cancer, and he was allowed visits on the patio as long as all persons wore masks and gloves and weather permitted. These daily visits often lasted an hour, and Peter would take a walk around the perimeter of the yard with Phil and Linda once or twice during the visit, often using his favorite dance step the entire time. They would sing songs together—Peter could still read— and they would show pictures on their phones and remind him of family stories. After many happy months Peter somehow contracted COVID-19, testing positive when his visiting family, staff, and other residents tested negative. He grew weaker as the virus and isolation did their work, and died one week and one day after his diagnosis. In addition to both his wives, Peter was preceded in death by his sister Eleanor Mezzanares and her husband Tom, by his father John Peter, his step-father John Batten, his mother Jenny Castro Batten, his brother Hector(Cas,) Castro, and his sister-in-law Beryl Castro. He is survived by his youngest brother, John Richard (Dick) Castro, his sister-in-law Loretta Castro; daughter Linda Spartz and husband Phil, son Steven Castro and wife Peggy, step-daughter Donna Nicolaus and husband Danny, step-son Jimmy Townsend; grandchildren Josiah Spartz, Ian Thomas Castro and wife D’Arcy, Marine Staff Sgt. Peter Esteban Castro and wife Kelsey; great-grandchildren Kaya Rose Castro, Kingston Hayes Castro, William Kelly Castro, Colin Lee Castro, Kaydence Noel Castro, and Landon Peter Castro, along with many beloved cousins, nieces, nephews, grand-nieces and grand-nephews. His strength of character, quietly cheerful personality and happy smile will be greatly missed by all.
Peter Castro came into this world on April 29, 1927, in Aguilar, Colorado. The first-born of Juanita (“Jenny”) and John Peter Castro, he entered life at their home, at the address “three blocks from the post office.”... View Obituary & Service Information
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