ELIAS L. TAVAREZ
‘The Apple Man’ January 30, 1930 — October 25, 2018
Owner of Eli’s Apples, and retired Flight Engineer, Elias L. Tavarez went home to be with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on Thursday, October 25, 2018 at his home in Acampo, California at the age of 88. Eli was known for his smile and laughter, for loving his apple customers, and for sharing the joy of his relationship with the Lord.
Born January 30, 1930, in McAllen, Texas, Eli was raised in an affluent family of 7 children, with a strong work ethic and family values. He set out to forge a path of his own with a childhood dream to fly airplanes. He served in the United States Army from 19531956, and from there was employed at Beechcraft Aviation in Kansas City, building the Beechcraft Model 18. He was a graduate of Northrop Aeronautical Institute of Inglewood, California where he met and married the former Barbara Kaye Kimball, who passed away on November 10, 2016. He worked as a flying mechanic for Flying Tigers Airlines from 1956-1958 and served in the US Airforce Reserve from 1956-1961. In 1958 he was employed with Western Airlines and went into flight engineer training. In pursuit of fulfilling his childhood dreams he applied for a position with World Airways out of Oakland, California in 1962 where he flew as a Flight Engineer for 35 Years. Eli moved his family to Danville, California in 1966 to build their family home. During that time he was flying the Boeing DC-8, 707, 727, 747, and DC-10 around the world. His vast travels included flights to Vietnam flying the troops and machinery between war zones. On March 29, 1975 World Airways operated the last airlift flight out of Da Nang, Vietnam. Eli flew one of the two 727’s which landed with Ed Daily, owner of World Airways. Thousands rushed the airplane as it took off on a taxi way under heavy fire as reported on CBS news March 30, 1975. He also experienced many years of flying to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, bringing those of the Muslim faith to their annual Hajj. Eli operated the first 747 ever, as well as the flip nose 747, flying cargo and then commercial until he retired from World Airways in 1997.
While living in Danville, an airline pilot’s wife, Betty Huffines had invited the family to First Baptist Church of Danville where both Eli and Barbara came to know Jesus Christ and their lives were forever changed. Eli’s family served at First Baptist Church, opening their home and their hearts to the community until 1974 when they moved to the Lodi, California area, to build a family home in the country. They became members of First Baptist Church of Lodi where Eli served as an Elder and active member. Together Eli and Barbara started and maintained several church and community ministries, one of which was a widow & widowers’ group to care for the needs of the elderly. They also cared for missionaries and international
students, bringing them to live on their property for months and even years at a time. They opened their home every holiday with hospitality overflowing to those who had no place to go. They were also former members of First Baptist Churches of Galt and Herald, California.
Eli was a strong and firm leader, very godly, extremely positive, a provider and a protector. He believed in tithing and giving generously because of his Christian faith and responsibility to steward well the blessings of the Lord. He was a hero to his own and extended families. Eli cared for the homeless and the less fortunate not only with his time but with his generous donations and resources. He shared his love for the Lord with anyone who would listen and supported many Christian churches and organizations, Christian schools and started multiple Spanish ministries in churches and homes in the local area. He would pick up hitchhikers without hesitation, take them to church, put them to work on his ranch, give them money, a warm meal, and tell them about the Lord. In 1981, while still flying, Eli removed the grape vineyards from their Acampo, California property, and planted apple trees, a project designed to take Eli and Barbara into their retirement years. Soon after they began to reap a harvest and between Eli’s flights, they would make weekend road trips to the Bay Area to sell their apples at the San Francisco Farmers Markets. Considering the popularity of their Fuji Apples they decided to bring their business home to open Eli’s Apples on their Peltier Road property in Acampo, California. The two would polish apples by hand for their customers. For years it was common to see Eli Tavarez walking the streets of Lodi for his morning exercise, greeting every person he would see, and delivering apples with a hug and a smile. Eli’s Apples will remain in business under the operation of his family, and will continue to serve the community and carry on the legacy in memory and honor of Elias L. Tavarez.
Eli was preceded in death by his beloved wife Barbara, married for 60 years, and is greatly missed by their four children and spouses George and Lori, Elias and Pamela, Michael and Shawn, and Michelle; grandchildren and their spouses Jacqueline, Nicholas, Jessica, Stacy, Elias and McKenna, Cierra, Blaze, David, Keith, Kevin, Brooklyin, Michael, Gabriel, Kylie, Garrett and Kate, Blake and Hannah, Roman and Whitney, Holden, Pierce, Sophia Victoria; and great-grand children Makai, Madison, Griffin, Kaydence, Jayden, Ryver, Jensen Levi, Zyon Grace, Declan Isaiah and Sawyer. He is also survived by three sisters and their families, Manuela Tavarez Martin, Miriam Tavarez Macias, and Glafira Tavarez Hernandez. “Our Family is a Circle of Strength and Love, Founded on Faith, Joined in Love, Kept by God, Together Forever!”
A Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, November 10, at 11:00am at First Baptist Church of Lodi, 267 N. Mills Avenue, Lodi, California. Our Family would like to thank the doctors and nursing staff of Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento, as well as the Kindred Hospice nurses and home health aides, and all who served our father with tender loving care. We thank all our friends and family and church family, our local community and our apple customers, for all your love and support at this time and throughout the years. We love and appreciate you, May God richly bless you, The Tavarez Family.
Please sign the guest book at www.lodinews.com/guestbook.