BERWYN, Ill. — A small wooden cross marks the spot where Jose Guadalupe Arevalo — or as he was better known by, ‘Don Lupe’ — was found on Tuesday after disappearing from his Berwyn home on Dec. 1.
While flyers, social media posts and news coverage referred to Arevalo as an elderly man from Berwyn — to friends, family and those that knew him — he was much more than that.
While Arevalo was born all the way back before World War Two, the story of his journey to America began back in the 1970s, when Don Lupe left his home country of Mexico for the City of Big Shoulders.
Arevalo settled into Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood where he became a go-to kind of guy for those that knew him.
“He was a mechanic,” said Esnelia Vargas, Arevalo’s daughter. “He was a mechanic for all my childhood, he was Little Village’s mechanic.”
Beyond replacing brake lines or rotating tires, Arevalo was also a role model who offered kids the means of learning a trade, while keeping them on the right track and away from gangs.
“He always said do the right thing even when nobody is looking,” said Rolando Bautista. “That’s the only thing I got and that’s what we’ve been doing.”
One of those kids Arevalo taught how to fix cars was Bautista, who grew up right next door to Arevalo.
“I was a part of his family, you know?” Bautista said with a smile. “I remember three or four guys who used to go there. he would teach them how to work on cars and guide them. It was somewhere for us to be other than the streets.”
Bautista said little by little, he learned how to fix cars — and because of Arevalo’s guidance — that turned into what he still does today, which is work as a mechanic at Metro Ford on the Southwest side.
“He guided me into who I became now,” Bautista said. “If it wasn’t for him, who knows what I’d be doing right now, you know?”
If you or someone you know would like to help the Arevalo family cover funeral expenses, a GoFundMe page has been set up to do so.