Leon Bumanglag

Leon Bumanglag

1947 - 2023

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Obituary of Leon Bumanglag

Leon Bumanglag passed away on July 21, 2023. He was in the later stages of Alzheimer’s Disease, but the immediate cause of death was pneumonia. 

Leon was born on April 18, 1947 to Leon and Beatrice (Silva) Bumanglag in Delano, California. His father had immigrated to Stockton, California from the Philippines as a young adult. His mother was born and raised in a Mexican family in Ballinger, Texas. Together they raised their four children, Mary Jean, Anthony, Leon Jr., and George, in the small farming town of Earlimart, in California’s San Joaquin Valley. Growing up, Leon was a Boy Scout, took piano lessons, loved to read, and enjoyed school. He was a popular student at Delano High School and was elected Senior Class President. He went on to attend La Verne College in Southern California, where he earned his BA in Mathematics. Following graduation, he spent a year in Kumasi, Ghana, teaching high school math. He loved Ghana and always hoped to return. When he came back to the U.S. from Africa, he moved to the east side of the San Joaquin Valley, living in the town of Cutler. There he taught 5th and 6th grade for a few years and then worked for the phone company as an engineer. He loved the nearby Sierras where he frequently went hiking and backpacking. He also travelled to Mexico several times, toured Europe, and had extended stays in North Carolina and Hawaii.

In his early forties Leon moved to Santa Cruz where he earned an Associates Degree in Electronic Technology from Cabrillo College. This led to jobs in the Santa Cruz area with Raytek, System Studies, and finally at Universal Audio, where he worked as an engineer for 12 years before his retirement. 

In 1995 Leon met his wife, Dena Bjornlie. They had a happy life together for 28 years, up until his death. Leon had never had children of his own, and happily took on the role of stepfather to Dena’s son, Aaron Araki. He was proud of Aaron, and was a caring and supportive parent.

Leon had a lifelong love of music. In particular he enjoyed older styles of Mexican, African and Cuban music, as well as Rock and Roll. He also loved American Old Time String Band music, and played guitar in several bands. He was very involved in the Traditional Dance Society of Santa Cruz, organizing contra and square dances, often running the sound system, and sometimes playing in the bands for the dances.

Leon was a friendly, kind, interesting, and helpful man. He was dear to many friends and family members. People will always remember his beautiful smile, his sense of humor, his intriguing country accent and his easy-going ways. Friends have described him as “a delightful shining light” and “a uniquely groovy soul”. He will be sorely missed.

Leon is survived by his wife, Dena Bjornlie, his brother, George Bumanglag, his sister-in-law, Lucy Castro Bumanglag, his nephews, Leon and George Bumanglag and Daniel Martinez, his nieces, Marcella Martinez and Debbie Boone, stepson, Aaron Araki, and many cousins. Leon was preceded in death by his parents, Leon Sr. and Beatrice, his sister, Mary Jean Martinez, his brother, Anthony Boone, and his nephews, Michael Martinez and Anthony Valenzuela. 

A “public welcome” Celebration of Life is being planned for Spring 2024.