Peacefully with his loved ones at his home bedside, Luis now rejoices with our Lord in heaven. He joins his beloved wife of 54 years Alicia “Licha” Ceja de Guel (1929-2003), and his sons Jesus Manuel (1952-2024) and Juan Raul (1953-2024), and son-in-law Ruben Gonzalez (1953-2022).

Luis was born in Laramie, Wyoming, the son of Mexican migrant parents, Pablo Guel (1902-1980) and Maria del Carmen Corrales de Guel (1910-1992). He was the baby brother of Ana Vinaja (1926-2011) and Juan Raul (1927-2018). His sister Rita died before his birth (1928-1929). He was also the older brother of siblings Leonardo (1931-2011), Juanita (1932-1940), Felix (1939-1987), and Pablo (1941-2019).  He is survived by his younger siblings Lario “Larry”, Elvia Lares, Alejo “Alex”, Marcelino “Marce”, and Vicente “Vince”.

The Guel family migrated back to San Luis Potosí, Mexico when Luis was 5 years old. He felt a great obligation at a very early age and throughout his youth to care for his siblings and he did anything he could to improve their livelihood. Luis and his brothers worked odd jobs in the small towns and villages along the Pan-American Highway as his father worked on the highway. Luis convinced his parents to eventually settle in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico for greater opportunities; one of which was meeting his beloved wife several years later at a community dance. As a couple, Luis and Licha would be known for their elegant unison on the dance floor to all types of music.

At age 14, Luis moved to the Sacramento and San Francisco areas to find work to help support his family. He enlisted in the U.S. Army at age 17 with his parents’ consent so that he could have a steady income for the family. Luis and Licha married on October 9, 1949 as soon as he finished Army boot camp at Fort Louis, Washington, and he was deployed to Korea shortly afterward in 1950. Despite not speaking fluent English at the time, he served in a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) unit and was the recipient of five Bronze stars, a silver star, and was bestowed the Korean War Veteran’s Memorial Medal for Thanks and Honor by former Congressman Mike Honda in 2016. This commemorative medal was specially crafted with a piece of rusty barbed wire from the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). The San Jose GI Forum recognized his service and he was celebrated in Veteran’s Day parades.

Eventually, they moved to the Bay Area in California and lived in San Jose Airport Village, Redwood City, and East Menlo Park before settling in Sunnyvale in 1964. There they purchased a home in which Luis himself built an addition with large family spaces for his growing family; many family members stayed with them over the years for various periods of time. Luis was proud of his home which was adorned with his passion for architecture and Mexican-influenced tiles, ceramics, arches, walkways, rose gardens, bougainvillea and jacaranda trees and Licha’s favorite fragrant gardenias at the entrance door.

Home ownership was a significant accomplishment for Luis who earned just a 3rd grade education. He built his home with hard work and with never-ending love and commitment to his wife and his 8 beautiful children. His love and work ethic made him a role model for many. Luis retired as a Lab Technician from the Veterans Administration Hospital in Palo Alto with 35 years of service. Throughout his life he assisted many family members with purchasing their own homes.

Luis was a creative and self-taught artist and collector of numerous cultural artifacts, pottery, costumes and religious images which were prominently and proudly displayed throughout his home. Luis’ love for his cultural heritage inspired his family and friends and many others to take pride in their cultural roots and language. Motivated by the inaccurate history lessons being taught in schools, he was a self-taught scholar of the Aztec calendar and he authored and published the book Xiuhmolpilli: The 52 Year Cycle with the help of his son Juan Raul Guel in 2006. He was earnest in learning many words and phrases in the indigenous Nahuatl language. 

Luis is remembered by many for his passionate lectures on the history and significant elements of the Aztec calendar which he gave throughout the Bay Area community, at UC Berkeley, Stanford University, and at restorative justice programs in state prisons. Luis hand-carved a monumental reproduction of the Aztec calendar comprising 158 separate wooden pieces weighing over 400 pounds that has been on exhibition at the Mayfair Community Center in East San Jose since 2018. He was awarded commendations from City officials and the California State Assembly for his research and community work.

Luis taught ballet folklórico from every state in México to his children, grandchildren, nephews and nieces and neighborhood children. He established the Ballet Folklórico de Luis Guel that performed in local parades, in festivals and dance halls. 

The passion that he and Licha shared for cooking for the people they loved caused them to cater countless community events over the years.  Luis’ love of Asian cuisine in particular led him to mastering his own version of Chinese chicken salad. Tao Tao Restaurant in Sunnyvale, CA was his go-to place for weekly lunches, birthdays or other family celebrations. He also mastered a family reunion favorite of Luis y Licha’s tacos, whose recipe he kept secret throughout his life.

The Luis Guel Family was honored as Familia of the Year in 2018 by the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley.

Luis’ legacy will live on through the countless lives he has influenced. He is survived by his children Jose Luis “Joe”, Rosa Gonzalez, Maria Guadalupe “Lupe”, Carlotta Angelita “Angel” Moncallo, Alicia del Carmen and Ana Luisa; his daughters-in-law Gloria, Ernestina “Tina” and Michele, and son-in-law Abel Moncallo; as well as his 26 grandchildren, 40 great-grandchildren with 2 more expected, and 3 great-great grandchildren.

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