Joe Zapien De Lira was born on October 30, 1949 in Lompoc to Estanislao De Lira and Frances Zapien Hernandez. After graduating from Lompoc High School, Joe became a United States Marine and served two years in Vietnam. In 1969, Joe was honorably discharged and returned to Lompoc to raise a family and begin driving trucks for local ranches and companies.
Following retirement, Joe would spend his early mornings at USA gas station drinking coffee with the PD's night-shift and cruising around town “patrolling.” Joe became an honorary officer and was known to the Police Department as “Uncle Joe.” He also loved to cook and BBQ for his family and friends. Not only was his food great but you could always count on your meal to be served on time. Joe took pride in his punctuality, and if you were late, you heard about it. Joe lived his later days in his childhood home, he would spend hours on his front porch relaxing and chatting with visitors as they stopped by.
Out of all the titles and roles Joe held throughout his life, the one he was proudest of was “Pampa.” Joe loved and was devoted to his grandson and great-grandson. He would pick up his grandson Andrew from school to take him on daily candy stops, he attended all sporting events, he even passed down his love for cooking, and treasured tips, to his grandson Andrew. When Joe's great-grandson Anthony came along, he lit up Joe's life. They were the best of friends with an inseparable bond. When they weren't getting into trouble, they would often be found sitting on Joe's porch talking about toys and sharing M&Ms. Their relationship was something Joe cherished and everyone loved to witness.
Joe passed away on December 27, 2018 at home with his loved ones by his side. He is survived by his daughter Brandi De Lira, grandson Andrew De Lira and great-grandson Anthony De Lira. Also, by his Love and longtime companion Barbara Chackel, brothers Jerry Hernandez, Robert Hernandez, Richard De Lira, as well as numerous nieces and nephews – of which, there are too many to list. Joe was preceded in death by his father Tanilo, mother Frances, brothers Johnny, Leo, Buddy Rodriguez, Frank and Donald Hernandez, sisters Virginia Talavera and Blanche Hernandez.
Services will be held Friday, January 11 at 10:00 am at La Purisma Catholic Church with a celebration of life to follow at the American Legion Post 211. Burial services are private.