Jesse Valadez was also honored with the Lowrider Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Honor for his community work and years of service as the President of the Imperials Car Club. Most of us who knew Jesse also knew that his legacy would not only be recognized by the awards or recognition he earned in this culture, his impact would be measured by the countless life lessons, conversations, and the obligation he felt for always doing the right thing at the right time. Some are blessed in that way, and Jesse definitely was.
For those of us who have been fortunate enough to have a ride featured in Lowrider Magazine, it makes an immediate impact not unlike that of becoming a celebrity. Imagine seeing your masterpiece on wheels on a nationally syndicated television show called Chico and the Man, with millions watching weekly, catapulting Lowriding into mainstream America overnight! Jesse and the Imperials were also part of the big screen in playing roles in the movie Boulevard Nights, capturing Lowriders on film throughout theaters around the country. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy from Garden Grove, California flying an Imperial plaque.
It is relatively impossible to write an accurate account on a Lowrider Legend with so many stories and life lessons like Jesse Valadez. Lowrider Magazine doesn’t have enough pages to properly credit his accomplishments as a man, father, uncle, grandfather, and Lowrider. In attending the funeral services for Jesse, I saw firsthand the sweeping tide of change in our Lowrider Community. Not too long ago, if a car club experienced a loss, you would see those club colors scattered between family and friends. But at Jesse’s services, there were throngs of Lowrider Car Clubs, which paid respect to the Lowrider of Lowriders, his family, and The Imperials. The church on Atlantic, just off Whittier Blvd., was standing room only. And even though it is now illegal to cruise or have a funeral procession down Whittier Boulevard. City Officials allowed this special occasion for a very special man. This time, Gypsy Rose and Jesse were leading their last caravan together down Whittier with close to five hundred Lowriders from various car clubs and independents honoring this man.
Jesse Jr., now an officer with the Imperials, was told he had big shoes to fill. On the day he buried his father, he replied I’ve been wearing my father’s shoes all this time, and now I will tie them tight. Of course, those shoes are black and gold. Jesse Jr. is a true testament of his father’s legacy and demeanor. His father taught him well. He plans to continue to keep the Rose showing and flying his and his father’s car club plaque. Special thanks to Tomas, current President of the L.A. Imperials, and Jesse Valadez, Jr. for their recollections of Mr. Gypsy Rose.
Jesse was a personal inspiration to me. As a young man, he built, from the ground up, a car club that would become the standard to which other organizations would set their goals. He created a car club where Lowriding was the life blood of the people in it; and a club in which your car had to be something special to be considered Imperial Material. We pay homage to the life and work of the man that lead the Imperials as president for over 14 years; a man who will forever be remembered as one of the culture’s most recognized, admired, respected, and dedicated Lowriders in history. Ride in Peace, Jesse.