In Memoriam

Land-Based Learning Board Member Mario Gutierrez

Mario Gutierrez


1949 - 2017

Every year on Mario's birthday we used to make jokes about all his near death experiences. Like the time he broke his leg in middle school and survived a blood clot to his lung from his cast being put on too tight. Or when as a teenager, he accidentally set the grocery store he worked at on fire. To the multiple car accidents, or the time he was shot at during a Cuban pride rally. Or the time his pilot friend Curt and he almost crashed into a mountain pass in a small plane, or the time he was swept out to sea for miles when daughter Gabi was just a newborn baby. And then there was the most recent incident this year when he suffered a severe medical complication. There are literally dozens of stories like this. However, he brushed each close call off with a smile and a beautiful outlook on life and how precious it can be.

We always had a sense of humor about all of Mario's mis- adventures, and that's why we never thought this day would come so soon. He lived his life to the fullest and gave himself completely to others. He belonged to many charities, was on the board of several health-related causes and arts organizations. He worked for Native American health at CRIHB. He fought for patients with AIDS while working at the Sierra Health Foundation. He championed farm worker justice at The California Endowment. He most recently was the Executive Director of The Center for Connected Health Policy, advancing tele medicine.

Along with the LOVE of his life, his wife Debra, he traveled the world helping to provide free surgery and first time smiles to children. Mario lived a full life and saw so much of the world. In their last year together, Mario and Deb traveled everywhere from Japan to Finland to Brazil and China, and of course, Cuba. Together they had two beautiful children, Gabi and Pablo, and they will be the first to tell you that there was no better father. He was always positive and patient and treated everyone with a heart of gold and he could whip up a mean paella. He also taught us that the universe is full of magic and spirits. That nothing is forever but nothing disappears. Through him we learned to not fear death but to embrace the journey of life. He celebrated the beauty and mysteries of the world and believed that we are all connected on earth and beyond. His life was cut way too short, but he did not waste a second. He was the most perfect person in the universe, and if you were blessed to know him, you know this is not an exaggeration. Our hearts aches to lose our dad and BEST friend, but his energy and legacy of love will remain within us forever. Please consider a donation to one of the charities Mario served and loved: The Center for Land-Based Learning, Farmworker Justice, OCHIN Foundation, The Latino Center of Art + Culture, or the ReSurge Foundation Cuba Program.


To make a donation in Mario's name to the Center for Land-Based Learning,
please visit our donation page.