*

*
Man descending staircase, Getty

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Lou Orrantia

I was bummed to read that my old bud and boss Luis "Lou" Orrantia recently passed away. Lou was one of the most important teachers and mentors I have ever had in my life.

My father, Amos Sommers, had a long career building houses in San Diego. He started with American Housing Guild in the early fifties. His own company, Sommers Development, built for many income levels, from modest single family FHA homes to some of the nicest neighborhoods in San Diego, from Alvarado Estates to Del Cerro Highlands.

My dad's first superintendent was a man named Cliff Hitt. Second was a man named Roger Soper. Both of these guys were very competent, very tough men, very good at what they did.

The super built the houses, my dad got them approved and secured financing. He used the great architect Dale Naegle for conceptual architectural plans and Bob Young Engineering and Alvarado Engineering for civil engineering and design work, respectively. Lou worked for Alvarado and when Roger left, my father hired Lou as a Vice President / Project manager and he became responsible for construction. They were a very good team and had a very successful operation. They built a lot of good projects together, fought a lot of wars.

Lou was a legitimate artist as a designer, a very talented man. A big man, a star baseball player at San Diego High in the 1950's. Knew construction and design inside and out. Great draftsman. He forged wonderful relationships with our sub contractors. A great boss who I respected very much.

I came in as a young laborer and then became an assistant superintendent and finally a project manager. Lou taught me everything I knew and put up with a lot of crap from me at times. I was not in the best place as a human being back then and he treated me like a son and tried to direct me to the proper road. I just can't begin to tell you what he meant to me, for a big stretch of my life almost a second father. We played racketball, we drank together, told dirty jokes, he showed me what it meant to be a man in some ways. Turned me on to menudo, to good tamales. He was a good man, a good father, good husband and a good catholic.

At some point things went south on a big project and my dad and Lou severed their relationship. I had to pick up the pieces and it was a very tough time. Last I heard Lou was working for Caster and then building stuff in Reno. I tried often to find contact info for him but never could. Because he meant a lot to me and I wanted to rekindle our relationship.

Saw his name in the paper and had to say something. All of my love and condolences to his family.Would love to tell Buzz and Amos but they are gone now too.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hard .I feel for you. Always important to tell people and thank them for what they have met to us. I think you have done that honorably here