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Boy Scout builds memorial for fallen community leader

Tracy Jara fostered civic pride and respect

Posted: December 30, 2008 10:20 p.m.
Updated: December 31, 2008 4:55 a.m.

Tracy Jara's family gather to read the plaque dedicated to his memory. Jara's resting area is surrounded by trees and overlooks the lower lake. Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich said Tracy proved that initiative, imagination and drive can bring real change, in Castaic and countywide.

A serene pathway leading to three wooden benches surrounded by butterfly houses and trees overlooks Castaic Lake and serves as a memorial to beloved Castaic community member Tracy Jara and a tribute to his surviving family members.

Jara's wife, Maria Jara, visits the peaceful site often and spends time on the bench inscribed with "Tracy and Maria."

"I bring blankets and coffee and curl up on our bench," she said. "It's the most calming, wonderful feeling to be here."

On Tuesday morning, friends, family and community members joined Maria to dedicate the memorial built by 18-year-old Filippo Alimonda for his Eagle Scout project.

Tracy Jara launched T & M Enterprize, a mail services and neighborhood store, nine years ago shortly after moving to Castaic. He was the Castaic Chamber of Commerce president for four years.

After a battle with a rare form of stomach cancer, Jara died June 29, 2007 in his Castaic home.

Those who gathered at his memorial Tuesday site spoke of Jara's dedication.

"Tracy was a good man who respected God and government, the value of family and friends, the sanctity of marriage, the responsibility of parenting, the purpose of mentoring, the endeavor of the entrepreneurial spirit and the fulfillment in helping others," said Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich. "He motivated those around him to appreciate their health, respect others, and work more diligently toward maintaining civic pride in the Castaic Community."

Alimonda, of Valencia, planned the site in September and finished the project in early December with the volunteer help of members from his scout troop and community members. Alimonda never met Jara. A Castaic Scout leader referred him to the project idea.

Now that the memorial is complete, Alimonda will soon become a prestigious Eagle Scout.

The Jara family appreciated the hard work Alimonda put into the memorial, even down to the detailed plaque, butterfly houses and benches - one for Jara and his wife and the others for his two surviving daughters, Jenna and Veronica.

And there are dimes hidden within the memorial. "When he passed away, I would find dimes everywhere," Maria Jara said. "They hid 47 dimes, one for every year of his life."

The prayer inscribed on the plaque is the one Tracy Jara prayed every day, Alimonda said. The location of the site dates back decades in significance for Jara.

"Even when he didn't live here, he would come to the lake," said Jara's oldest brother, Michael. "It was one of his favorite places growing up as a kid and then he ended up moving here."

"Tracy would be really proud of it," he said of the memorial.

Maria Jara was touched by the number of people who attended.

"I knew I was lucky, but by the looks of this, you can tell what he meant to the community," she said.


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