By Pablo J. Sáinz
Justice Gilbert Nares could be declared an illustrious son of Oceanside.
For almost 40 years, Nares has developed an outstanding career as a judge, including 25 years as justice in the California Court of Appeal. Nares grew up in Oceanside, attended Laurel Elementary, graduated from Oceanside High School, and later received his bachelor’s and his law degree from the University of San Diego.
Justice Nares took a moment to reflect on his time in the courts, but most of all, on his life growing up in Oceanside.
What's the first emotion you feel when you look back at what you have accomplished, and remember you came out of Oceanside's Eastside neighborhood?
When I look back at what I have accomplished and remember growing up in Oceanside's Eastside neighborhood, my first feelings are of happiness and thankfulness.
Our Eastside neighborhood was a great place to grow up because many of our relatives and friends lived within the neighborhood. It was a friendly neighborhood and we were able to walk to school and to the neighborhood park.
Lucy and Marie Chavez and their family operated the Eastside Market, a corner grocery store and I had a great rapport with them. I enjoyed discussing public affairs and politics with them from an early age, beginning in grammar school.
One day when I was about 10 years old, my father was ill and bedridden and required medication from the pharmacy. My mother could not go because she had to take care of my father and my three younger siblings. So she gave me the money, and I walked to McDonald's Pharmacy on Mission Avenue in downtown Oceanside.
After I paid for the medicine, I was at the corner waiting to cross the street when I dropped the glass bottle containing the medication. I was crying and trying to pick up as many pills as I could when a young Marine came up to me and told me not to pick them up because there was too much broken glass among the pills.
I told him my father was very sick and I had spent all the money for the medicine. He told me not to cry, that everything would be okay, that accidents happen, and then he took me back into the pharmacy and paid for more medicine himself.
The young Marine had one stripe on his uniform. I thanked him and walked home. He did not tell me his name. I told my mother what had happened, and she explained that a young Marine did not make much money and the medicine was very expensive. |
Not only were we grateful for his generosity, but, as a result, I have never forgotten that act of kindness and have always viewed the Marine Corps in a very positive light. He did not have to help a child and gave up what was a big part of his pay to do so.
Your family has a long history in Oceanside. Can you comment on your family's ties to Oceanside?
During the Mexican Revolution, amid the chaos of war, my paternal great-grandparents (Camilo and Maria) told their four adult sons to immigrate to the United States for a better future for themselves and their families. The four immigrated to the United States around 1915. After finding work and saving some money, they sent for their families.
My great-grandfather advised the four brothers to stay together and never to return to Mexico. My grandfather and one of his brothers took his advice, but the other two brothers returned to Mexico with promises from the Mexican government of land and equipment to farm. The promises turned out to be false, and when they tried to return to return to the United States, they could not because they had given up their lawful resident status in the United States when they returned to Mexico.
My great-grandfather, my grandfather (who was born in 1877) and his brothers were all from Purepero, Michoacan.
Around 1918-1920, my grandparents and their children settled in Oceanside, as did my grandfather's brother, Juan. My parents also made their home there, and they were all lifetime members of St. Mary Star of the Sea Parish in Oceanside.
My siblings and I all attended public schools in Oceanside from kindergarten through high school. I live in Oceanside now, as I have my entire life.
Some of my fondest memories of Oceanside include going to the beach as a family, attending the annual rodeo at Camp Pendleton, and participating in the summer day camps sponsored by the City of Oceanside at community parks throughout the city.
How did growing up in Oceanside influence you as a person, as a professional?
My parents, Zeferino and Dancy Nares, had high expectations for each of us—for me, my sister Linda, and my brothers Charles and Richard. We were expected to attend church, study and do our school homework and, of course, be well behaved.
They encouraged us to read and I still remember my first library card from the Oceanside Public Library when I was in grammar school. Indeed, my first job while I was in high school was as a library page (shelving books etc.).
As a young lawyer I was privileged to serve on the Board Of Trustees of the Oceanside Public Library. Growing up in Oceanside gave me a sense of community; a community to which I belonged.
Exactly how many years do you have as a judge?
On January 17, 2016, I will have served 40 years as a trial judge and Justice of the Court of Appeal. I was appointed to the Court of Appeal by Governor George Deukmejian and to both the Superior Court and Municipal Court by Governor Jerry Brown.
In these years, what would you consider your biggest accomplishment?
The opportunity I had to practice law in the community and thereafter serve as a justice and judge. Public service is both an honor and responsibility.
They've called you a "no-nonsense judge." Where did you think you got that quality from?
Just the facts and the law.
In a 2001 San Diego Union-Tribune article, you said you planned to continue as a judge for another decade. It's been 14 years since that. How does your future look? What plans to do you have?
I find my work fulfilling, interesting, and challenging. I like going to work every day. There is always a new issue of law that needs to be decided, cases that need to be reviewed, analyzed and decided, and I work with many talented professionals, including judicial assistants, clerks, lawyers and justices. It is never boring. My health is good, so I am not planning to retire anytime soon.
In that same article you thanked the Lord for all your blessings. What role does your faith play in your job as a justice?
I developed and learned my values and moral code from my family and faith. One of my core beliefs is that all persons are created equal and must be treated equally and with respect, that we are all accountable for our conduct, and thus, no one is above the law.
What should Latinos, especially the new generations, know about you?
They also can achieve their goals and fulfill their dreams if they study regularly, behave properly, and plan for the future. The fun will come all along the way.