Orlando Hondo Sierra
July 11, 1943 – January 27, 2021
Orlando Luis “Hondo” Sierra was born July 11, 1943 on the south central coast of Puerto Rico in the town of Ponce. His parents, Julian and Innocencia “Mary” Sierra, relocated with him and his brother, Javier “Coogie” to San Jose, California when Hondo was 18 months old. Growing up in San Jose, he spent time playing sports and working on cars with his brother and their friends, racing their cars over highway 17 to Santa Cruz. After graduating high school, he joined the Navy, working as an aircraft mechanic.
After leaving the Navy, he began dating and then married Judith Lee “Judy” Korn. He spent many years working at Ames Research in Mountain View, California while raising their two daughters, Tiffany and Joette. Years later, they relocated to Truckee, California, where Hondo worked at the Truckee Airport.
He was that guy that could make friends with anyone and do it easily. Everyone knew and loved Hondo (many never knew him as Orlando at all). His door was always open, as was his heart. Every where we went, he either knew people there or had new friends by the time we left. He was that guy. He loved big. Their parties were legendary and the stories that emerged from those events are the stuff of lore. He welcomed everyone into his house; people who needed a family always found one at Hondo and Judy’s house. Big open arms and hearts waiting for them. During this time, they opened their hearts and home to their adopted son, Shaemus, whose family had been their friends since before Shaemus was born.
When Judy died, Hondo moved in with Tiffany and her husband and his grandkids in Watsonville, California for a while. What a blessing that offered for the family. The kids had a live in grandpa for a time. A grandpa to take them to school and ice cream (he never met a cone he didn’t like) and to the park and to watch movies with (though he was usually asleep within the first 15 minutes). While he had left Puerto Rico at a very young age, Spanish was still his first language and so he became his son-in-laws Spanish tutor while he was taking Spanish classes at Carrillo College.
He met Kathy during that time and the two of them married, adding her family and friends to his ever expanding circle of love that surrounded him. They later moved to Southern Oregon, a whole new place for him to make new friends, lots of them. Everyone knew Hondo, wherever he went, including RVing throughout the U.S., trips to Europe, Mexico, and New Orleans. They spent about 10 years in the Medford area before moving back to Aptos, California.
One of the joys of his life was his grandchildren. He loved them all deeply, sharing and reveling in their accomplishments, cheering from the sidelines as they scored a goal, hit a ball, or swam a lap. He never missed an opportunity to reach out to them to compliment their successes.
While the last few years had seen Hondo decline as dementia crept in, taking him piece by piece, he never lost his smile or love for his family. We would drive down the road, listening to music (he couldn’t really hold a conversation any more, but knew all the words to anything Motown or the blues) and he would give a thumbs up to every truck we passed. When we’d stop for coffee, he’d still make friends with the barista, even with his limited memory and level of conversation, he’d still put a smile on everyone’s face.
Hondo spent the last year living in a couple of care facilities as his dementia progressed and COVID closed all his fun day programs. He became a favorite amongst staff, still eliciting smiles from those around him. He dodged COVID until a few weeks ago, when it finally grabbed a hold of him. As with many family and friends, it wasn’t too bad until it was, and then it took him quickly. He died peacefully the morning of January 27th, 2021.
He is survived by his wife, Kathy Sierra, daughters Tiffany Trustman (David) and Joette Pitcher (Rich) and son Shaemus McCrory (Jodi), grandchildren Elijah, Olivia, Kamryn, Brecken, and Asher, and step children, Felina, Joy, and Matthew, and step grandchildren Megan, Mason, and Dylan.
The hole in our lives is gaping right now, for there is no one to fill a void left by a man of his nature. Hondo was someone who lit up any room he entered and the world is a little dimmer with his departure. While we are all glad he didn’t suffer, we all keenly feel heartache for the loss of such a wonderful husband, father, grandfather, primo, and friend.
Services will be held after COVID restrictions are lifted.
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