Video: Opinion | The Life of Humberto Trujillo, the Postmaster of Phoenix

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My dad was the postmaster of Phoenix, but his first job, he was a bricklayer. He built stuff all across Phoenix — fixtures at St. Agnes Catholic Church, Christie’s Cabaret, [LAUGHS] helped build the main post office. He was just one of the bricklayers on the job. So when he became postmaster, he just would say, “I run the building that I built.” Look how far he came. Humberto Iniguez Trujillo, Jr. They called him Junior. He was born in Phoenix, and he grew up in the Duppa Villa Projects. How do I explain the Duppa Villa Projects? Most of his friends he grew up with didn’t make good life choices. His dad was into drugs and bad things and passed away when he was 6 years old — my grandfather. He had been through a lot — thrift stores, food stamps, raised by a single mom. But, my dad is a comedian and he makes everything a joke. So when we say, we’ll see you later, he’s like, “Yeah, that’s what my dad said and then I never saw him again.” That was my dad — sarcastic, and kind of a smart ass. [LAUGHS] I think that’s what got him through. He was a really good athlete naturally — baseball, basketball, football. Even played football for a year at Phoenix College, but it just didn’t work out. He always felt like he was not book smart. He felt like, “if I was just smarter.” That was a big motivator for him, like, you’re going to college. Our whole life, you’re going to college, no matter what. You’re going to be the first to graduate from college. He met my mom when he was 14 and she was 11 — yeah! My mom’s family really took my dad in. He was always at her house. And you can see it, because we have the pictures, he’s always with them. They got married young. [LAUGHS] My grandfather had just started his own masonry business, and so my dad and his brother-in-laws were certified bricklayers and they went into that line of work. Safety, precision — when he did brick work, it had to be perfect. It’s the fundamentals that matter. Laying the foundation is key. If you don’t do it right, it’ll fall. I think he was 26 maybe — he was pretty young when it happened. The wall was like five and a half feet, pure brick, but someone did something wrong and the wall fell over onto his leg and tore something in his knee. He was devastated. He was going to be a foreman, and then maybe have his own construction company someday, but after that he was like, no, I’m done. At that time, my mom was a mail carrier. My dad was, like, “I could do that.” So he took the test and then he became a mail handler in the night shift, processing mail. Being so ambitious, you could see his wheels are turning. Boisterous personality and everybody likes him, he’s funny, he talks to everyone. So people would be like, have you ever considered management? “I could do that.” So he became a supervisor. Then operational manager — if somewhere was struggling, he’d go in and help. Washington, D.C., New Mexico, Colorado. I can just hear him talking to managers at stations, rain or shine. Doesn’t matter — you got to make sure that the mail gets out. There were times I know in my early adulthood I hated the post office. He was always on night shifts and out of town a lot. We got to deliver the mail, that’s just how it goes. They got divorced two or three years later. The truth is infidelity. He met people at work, so. I was a team mom, so that was a lot of our conflict. When I graduated from college, he almost didn’t come. But I’m really glad he did, because you could tell even in the pictures it’s a really proud moment for him. Like, she’s living the dream I originally had. The thing with my dad is really it’s hard not to like him and get along with him. You can be mad a t him for so long, but— “What the hell am I doing out here? Huh? Does anybody know? I’m trying to get my way to church and it’s snowing so hard everything’s jacked up. Just thought I’d share that Sunday morning with you.” He can win you back over. He’s really good at that. [LAUGHS] One day he called me in the morning and he’s all, mija, I got it. I got this job. I’m the first Hispanic postmaster. I run the whole show here. And he even had mariachis there, because “I’m going to make sure I have my culture represented well.” That was my dad. “A great day in my life. I want to say thank you to everybody. Thank you.” [APPLAUSE AND CHEERS] He was the postmaster of Phoenix. “Topping our news this half hour, a somber ceremony earlier today. A procession through the streets of Phoenix to remember Postmaster Humberto Junior —” He had such a fighting spirit, I thought, because he was so stubborn. He’s not going to let this virus beat him, not this guy. He like fights for everything. Nothing beats him. At that time, no one could go to the hospital. You’re not allowed in, so they had three nurses in there. Two of them held his hand and another one sang “Amazing Grace” as he passed. The post office here in Arizona put the flag at half-mast in his honor. And the procession, they led us by the main post office, the building he built. He just showed you really can do anything you put your mind to.

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