Editor’s note: “Matters of faith” is a column that provides local religious leaders a place to write about how their respective faiths provide hope, courage and strength in these modern times.
Among the dozens of gospel principles Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount, one of my favorites is his instructions to Christians that they are the light of the world because of their relationship with Him.
“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.
“Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
This past week, our community lost Rueben A. Pacheco, a true light of Christ to countless people over his 83 years and specifically to our community since he moved here in 1951.
He went about his life from his Pine Canyon home as a quiet, passionate, dignified leader, serving God and others by living Christian principles.
Rueben was among those who migrated from the northern New Mexico town of Taos and firmly planted his family roots in Tooele Valley.
He never drew attention to himself when he performed good deeds. He simply went about doing what was best for his family, church and community.
For example, in the early 1970s, ethnic strife rocked the Hispanic and Caucasian factions of Tooele. I was there. It was unpleasant and it was real.
Offensive words were exchanged, threats of violence were constant, vandalism ran rampant, and public brawls became commonplace.
After several mounting years, it all unfortunately culminated on a hot August night in 1973 with the shooting and death of a young Tooele man.
Rueben was among those who poignantly said, “Enough is enough” and helped create a local organization called SOCIO: Spanish-Speaking Organization for Community Integrity and Opportunity.
As an advocate and ombudsman for SOCIO, Rueben — with the assistance of others — helped ease the ethnic strife and gradually led our community back to peaceful times.
During this period, Gov. Calvin Rampton recognized Rueben’s leadership traits and named him to the state Board for Spanish-Speaking Affairs.
He also formed a relatively small, but effective local charity called Family Benefit Association that raised funds for decades and anonymously assisted those of lesser means.
While working primarily as a carpentry shop supervisor at Tooele Army Depot, Rueben represented his fellow employees and pushed for equal opportunities in the workplace.
Rueben used his craft and skills to operate his own small business, Pine Canyon Custom Shop. He meticulously specialized in remodeling kitchens with Formica and hand-carved finishes.
The number of hours volunteering his time and talents helping friends, neighbors, members of his church, and strangers with his handyman skills could fill a large warehouse.
Rueben clearly lived the Savior’s teaching “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
Although Rueben shied away from the accolades of men, in 1976 the state named him Utah’s “Chicano of the Year.”
Whenever you met Reuben, and asked how he was doing, he politely responded and then sincerely wanted to find out how you were really doing. This continued throughout his life, regardless of the personal, family, or physical challenges he faced at that time.
I am a better person because of Rueben Pacheco and am confident countless others are as well.
My prayers, thoughts and heart go out to all members of the Pacheco family at this challenging time.
Although Reuben’s mortal body has been laid to rest, his light of living a Christian life will continue to shine forth in our community for generations.
Charlie Roberts is a former LDS bishop of the Tooele 6th Ward.