Jesus “Jess” Arronte Puente passed away peacefully in his home on Nov. 7, 2016 in Emmett, Idaho at the age of 92.
Jess is survived by his wife Gayle Gibbons and his children Edward Puente, Adele Darling, Victor Puente, Joseph Puente and Christine Porter, his step-sons Robert “Bob” Little, Mark Little and Mike Little, and several grandchildren. He is preceded in death by Belia Cuellar (1923–2013, mother of Ed, Adele and Vic) and Marie Alvarez (1940–2005, mother of Bob, Pat Little (1961–2015), Mark, Mike, Joe and Chris).
Jess was born on Feb. 19, 1924 in San Fernando, California to Estanislao Puente (1888–1930) and Joaquina Arronte Gomez (1888–1991). The Puente family moved to their ancestral home of Spain in the late 1920s. Sometime after Estanislao passed away, Jess had to drop out of elementary school so he could work to help support his family, an effort made difficult by the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939).
Jess was able to avoid conscription into General Francisco Franco’s army but, nevertheless, witnessed many of the horrors of that war as well as the aftermath of atrocities such as the bombing of Guernica in 1937.
During the nearly two very difficult decades that he lived in Spain, Jess never forgot his true nationality as a natural-born citizen of the United States of America and vowed to return to his home country as soon as he could and to bring his family back with him.
As teenagers, Jess and his brother—Miguel “Mike” Puente (1922–2011), also born in the U.S.—made contact with the American Consulate in Bilbao, Spain and were able to enlist in the United States Navy toward the end of World War II. His time in the US military helped Jess realize his dream of returning to America with his family, including his mother, Joaquina—who passed away in San Fernando at the age of 102.
Jess worked primarily as a grocer in the Los Angeles area for over three decades and spent his retirement years in California, Utah, Alabama and Idaho. He was very proud of his children who remember him for his love of animals, telling stories of his youth and his green thumb.
A funeral was held in Emmett, Idaho and internment with military honors took place at the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery in Boise on Nov. 10. Photographs, audio and video from the services can be viewed online at http://www.JoePuente.com/JessPuente.