Mural honors San Joaquin leader who died due to COVID-19

Jose Manual Ornelas passed away from COVID-19 in June of 2020.
SAN JOAQUIN, Calif. (KFSN) -- The city of San Joaquin is keeping the memory alive of late Councilmember Jose Manual Ornelas.

He passed away from COVID-19 in June of 2020.

"If you met Jose...he did a lot for this community, he was a fighter. He wanted the best for San Joaquin," says Firebaugh councilmember Felipe Perez.

He also owned his business, Ornelas Group Inc., where he assisted families with resources.

His dedication inspired his stepdaughter Shayla Robles to continue his line of work.

"The community was everything to him. No one ever comes back to the little towns...he decided to come back and make a change," she says.

"My next goal is to be like him, come to this city the way he came, and just change it for the people that live here," she adds.

His office now managed by his wife still has his name and face throughout and is where people will spot this mural in his honor reflecting a glimpse of his life.

Muralist Jose Elias says it took 6 months to complete and couldn't be happier with the final result.

"I am making the community be proud of the leaders in their communities," says Elias.

His family was overwhelmed with joy and inspiration.

With COVID-19 vaccines available and a possible surge on the rise, his family and friends are now pushing for everyone to take the pandemic seriously.

The unveiling of the mural is on Saturday from 10 am to noon in the city of San Joaquin.

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