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Community service earns Yepez hall spot
Arnita Montiel Yepez, left, and Roz Leon with the plaque of previous Hall of Fame inductee Paul Wiggin. - photo by Bulletin file photo

Arnita Marie Montiel Yepez — a tireless Lathrop volunteer who has made it her mission to make sure the community’s rich heritage is remembered and honored — is being inducted into the Manteca Hall of Fame.

The dinner and induction ceremonies are taking place Saturday, May 21, at the Manteca Senior Center, 295 Cherry Lane. Tickets are $60 apiece and are available through the Manteca Boys & Girls Club, 545 W. Alameda St., or by calling 239.5437.

Other inductees are Henry C. Long, agriculture; Richard Moon Yee, Health Care; Randall K. Yee, Health Care; Michael Bruce Mallory, Business; Peter P. Dalben, Government; Phil Waterford, special recognition; George (Joe) Handy, Education; and Walker Vick, Athletics.

Yepez is being inducted in the field of community service.

The lifelong Lathrop resident was among a group of city residents that pushed for the establishment of a veterans’ memorial at the Fifth Street community park. She is the only remaining committee member still  working each year to stage Memorial Day and Veterans Day evets at the memorial to honor those who have served. She has been chair of the event four times.

Yepez has worked tirelessly to make sure notables with strong Lathrop community roots were honored so they could serve as role models for their accomplishments.

She fought an uphill battle to get the football stadium at Lathrop High named after Paul Wiggin.

Wiggin, who grew up in Manteca and played football at Manteca High went on to play at Stanford University and played on several NFL teams.

He was the Stanford football coach when Cal pulled off “The Play” in 1982. Arguably the most storied play in the annals of college football, Cal used five laterals on the final kickoff — and ran through the Stanford band, which had taken the field, thinking the game was over — to beat the Cardinal 25-20.

Wiggin went on to serve as an assistant coach with the San Francisco 49rs. He’s been with the Minnesota Vikings organization after leaving the Niners.

Yepez organized a luncheon honoring Wiggin in addition to the school’s ceremonies.

She also pushed to have the Lathrop community gym named in Scott Brooks’ honor. Brooks was a member of the world champion Houston Rockets, served as an assistant Sacramento Kings coach and then went on to coach Oklahoma City to the NBA championship. He is now the head coach for the Washington Wizards.

Yepez worked with the Lathrop Lions to stage a dinner honoring Brooks as well.

She worked for a number of years as a volunteer at the Lathrop Senior Center and served as grand marshal of the Lathrop Christmas Parade in  2012 in recognition of her community service.

She was hired at Tracy Defense Depot in 1966 as a packer. She became the first woman lead packer and was promoted to packer foreman. She retired from the depot in 1993.

Yepez lost two husbands. Between them she has eight children, 19 grandchildren and 29  great-grandchildren.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email