Remembering Daniel Venegas

Daniel Venegas and Dr. Jose Cuellar after class at the City College Ocean Campus two weeks before Venegas' death. Photo by: LOUIE GUTIERREZ

The Guardsman

Lance Kramer

City College student Daniel Venegas died March 31, 2012. A memorial service and mass were held in his honor at the Most Holy Redeemer Church, Sanctuary at 100 Diamond Street in the Castro followed by a reception at the Castro Country Club at 4058 18th Street. He was 34 years old.

The cause of Daniel’s death has yet to be determined by the San Francisco Medical Examiner’s Office.

Daniel was well loved and admired by his friends and classmates. He moved to The City about a year and a half ago to escape his Los Angeles roots where he was involved in gangs and drug addiction. Daniel’s passions were in Latin American culture and his Aztec roots, as well as acting and modelling.

Daniel was on the road to recovery through programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Crystal Meth Anonymous, and he had much love and support through the Castro Country Club, which is a Gay sober community. Over 100 people attended both the Memorial service and reception.

Brothers John and Mark Miller played a beautiful rendition of Vince Gill’s “Go Rest High” in remembrance of Daniel at the Memorial service. “He was a very well loved and very giving person to anyone he ever ran into,” John said. “He had a lot of beautiful fruits here in the Castro and other areas, he didn’t just have a lot of friends in the gay community, he had a lot of friends everywhere he went.”

Daniel’s friend and substitute teacher of Latin American studies at City College, Louie Gutierrez’s Native American dance group Coyolxauqui (She who has bells on her face) performed a beautiful ceremonial dance at the service, incorporating elaborate costumes with traditional headdress and attire with dance and tribal drums and other percussive instruments accompanied by the natural sounds of the conch shell.

“They had an assignment for their mid-term, ‘name two people in the classroom that have made an impact on your studies this semester,’” Gutierrez said. “And I’m sure everyone said Daniel, they were joking about it because he was always the one always answering, always raising his hand, always talking.”

Gutierrez also has a radio program on KBBF 89.1 FM out of Santa Rosa, which Daniel was planning on making an appearance on, but never had a chance to perform.

“Daniel got the idea that I was on the radio, and he was going to do a report on racism in Hollywood, because he was an actor and all that,” Gutierrez said. “He was going to do a show with me the following Wednesday but he didn’t get to that Wednesday…the next thing you know, I show up for class and he’s not there, so then, you know, life is just that way.”

Daniel’s classmate Sylvia Vargas said he made class more enjoyable with his thirst for knowledge and will be greatly missed. “ He was always in class, one of the first ones there, and always ready,” Vargas said. “He was very passionate about learning and wanting to get in touch with his roots and understand his identity.”

“He was just really special in every way,” Vargas said. “I won’t forget him ever, he touched my life and he’s made me very excited about school and also connecting me with my own identity.”

“He had so much enthusiasm, he had a thirst for knowledge, and that was very apparent,” classmate Jenny Prideaux said. “You know, we would get to class early everyday just so we could sit down and talk…he was always in the front row, and we would sit there and talk about class, about life…he made being in class fun and exciting and that’s who he was.”

Daniel’s family in Los Angeles could not be reached for comment by time of publication.