For this recurring feature in eNews, Doug Hoagland, a longtime Fresno Bee reporter, interviews members of our congregation so we can get to know each other better. New profiles run at least once a month. To read previous Meet Our Members profiles,
visit our website
Jacque and Bob Garcia, members since 2000 and 2008 respectively
Tell us about yourselves:
Jacque: I was born in Chicago and grew up in Whittier. I started college at Arizona State University, where I discovered I was a protester. It was 1969, and the Vietnam War was still on. I finished my bachelor’s degree and got my master’s degree at Cal State Fullerton. I earned my Ph.D. from the University of Arizona and taught at Southern Oregon State College. I moved to Fresno in 1980, working for several nonprofits, including more than 20 years as executive director at Comprehensive Youth Services. It provides mental health counseling and other social services. Bob and I both retired in 2014.
Bob: I was born and raised in Fresno (McLane Class of 1966). After high school, I attended Fresno City College and then was drafted. When I got out of the Army, I went to Fresno State and graduated in 1974. I worked in banking for 15 years and then owned a microwave store for five years. After I sold that business, I worked for the Small Business Administration and then served for 26 years as executive director of Cen Cal Business Financial Group, which specializes in small business loans. I have a son and twin daughters from my first marriage, and I have four grandchildren.
How did you two meet?
Jacque: Bob was chairman of the board at the Family Service Center, where I was executive director before going to Comprehensive Youth Services. We’ve been married for 20 years.
What brought you to Community UCC?
Jacque: I was raised in a Congregational church, but I stopped going after high school. There were other things to do in college. When Bob and I got married, I wanted a religious service, and Walt Perry at Fresno Metro Ministry officiated at our wedding. I asked him about a church to attend, and he said College Community Congregational (which became Community UCC) was the most progressive church in Fresno. Good to know, I said, and it was close to the house. So I started attending.
Bob: I was raised Catholic but didn’t go to church for many years. Jacque surprised me when she started going to church after we got married. Eventually, I started coming, and I brought the grandchildren with me. Everyone was so welcoming, and my grandson, Micah, enjoyed it so much. We became part of the church family.
What church activities have you been involved in?
Jacque: I’ve served as moderator and on trustees and also on the Pastoral Relations and Christian Education teams. I also chaired the search committee for the interim pastor when Dave Schlicher left. I’m currently on the Buildings and Grounds Team, and Bob and I are both on Deacons.
Bob: I’m also on the Finance Team.
What do you find special or different about Community UCC?
Bob: All these older people are firebrands. There are people who marched with Martin Luther King Jr. I love it. Also, the church is open and affirming to everybody, and I take that to heart. I have some conservative friends, and you don’t hear that from them.
Jacque: I feel intellectually inspired and challenged by the sermons. I like that we learn something, and things aren’t presented as simply black and white.
What’s your vision for the church?
Bob: I think Community has so much potential with its message. I want to see more people in the congregation and a bigger youth program. I don’t know why there’s not more vitality. That scares me.
Jacque: I feel the same way. I don’t know why the message doesn’t resonate with more people.
What’s something about you that might surprise people?
Jacque: When I was in graduate school, I taught nursery school and drove their little school bus.
Bob: I used to ditch class in high school.
How would classmates in high school describe you?
Jacque: I was on the fringe, and I hung out with an eclectic group of kids who were involved in theater.
Bob: I was not a good student, and I got into trouble. My classmates would be surprised that I got a degree and a good job, and I could retire.
What are your favorite movies?
Bob: I have movies I can watch over and over again – “Casablanca,” “Hoosiers” and “Citizen Kane.”
Jacque: I like “Body Heat” and “The Third Man.” We also like to go to New York to see Broadway shows. I love walking the streets of New York and being part of the mass of humanity.