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Kay Gambon Valdez first came to the United States in 1931 from Candon, Ilocos Sur, Philippines. He initially sailed to San Francisco where he met his cousin, Frank Galimba, in Watsonville to work in the fields. Kay joined the Navy and served as a steward during World War II. After the war, he married

Remedios Domingo Galicia in the Philippines in 1946. She hailed form Banayoyo, Ilocos Sur and was born on May 12, 1927. Remedios’s father had earned a Purple Heart as a member of the 1st Filipino Regiment during World War II.


The couple started out in Vallejo, but eventually settled in Watsonville to raise their family. They had five children in total. Four daughters, Frances, Irene, Gloria and Loretta, and one son, Jesse. They first lived on a labor camp in Moss Landing off Springfield Road. Their home was humble with a primitive out-building located behind it. It was near open strawberry fields and a reservoir where the children played and caught tadpoles. Later, the family moved to a house on the end of Lincoln Street in Watsonville.

Kay and Remedios were very hard workers. They worked for Driscoll’s berries and J. J. Crosetti all day and worked evening and graveyard shifts at night. Kay learned to cook while in the Navy so he often took jobs as a chef at local restaurants to provide additional support for his growing family. The restaurants he worked for include Bay View Hotel, the Brookdale Lodge, and Loma Linda and Deer Park restaurants. He also cooked for his family. His children remember always looking forward to his baked berry pies. Remedios also worked in the local canneries, including the graveyard   shifts at Watsonville Canning, New West and Dick Shaw. Because Remedios and Kay worked so often, the children learned to become very independent. “We have an inside family joke that none of us children did not graduate from high school, until later on in life,” Jesse Valdez, a retired Santa Cruz County sheriff’s deputy, said laughing. “But, we all turned out all right!”

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