SAN ANTONIO – Much like they did between their full-time jobs in 1966, Ed and Dora Stahl will walk as far as they can in Saturday’s Cesar Chavez March for Justice.
The Stahls are in their late 80s and early 90s.
Back then, they actually marched with Cesar Chavez and the United Farmworkers in a historic 300-mile trek from Delano, California, to the state capitol in Sacramento, protesting the working conditions and low pay of the people harvesting America’s food.
Dora Stahl, whose last name was Rodriguez at the time, said she told herself, “I need to help these people.”
She said she was able to join the march for five days, and the man she would marry was there on weekends.
Now living in San Antonio, the Stahls met when they served as president and vice president of the Catholic Council for the Spanish Speaking and the organization of parishes within San Francisco’s Mission District.
They said they met Cesar Chavez when he asked for the council’s support in the early days of the United Farmworkers, founded by Chavez and Dolores Huerta.
“Even though we were small, we were the biggest one in town. So it meant something,” said Ed Stahl.
Sitting at a kitchen table across from Chavez, Stahl said, “Was like meeting the guy next door.”
Dora Stahl said she also was struck by how humble Cesar Chavez was.
“You never knew that this person was important, but he was just one of us,” she said.
Ed Stahl said never did he think at that point that Chavez would go on to become a cultural icon or lead an entire movement.
“I prayed and wanted him to succeed, but I wouldn’t have bet a plug nickel that he would,” he said.
Ed Stahl said the support for “La Causa” grew week after week.
“I could see that Cesar was going to change Hispanic people’s image of themselves,” Ed Stahl said.
As a public health nurse with a nursing degree from Incarnate Word, Dora Stahl said she was chosen to drive a small white truck in the march to Sacramento.
“I had just Band-Aids and the water,” she said. “That’s all it was.”
Even so, Dora Stahl said she was able to treat the sore, aching feet of the marchers, including Cesar Chavez himself.
It was a moment Stahl said she’ll never forget, “Taking care of his blister.”
She said with a laugh, “Little did I know that this would be a historical thing.”
ALSO ON KSAT.COM
Cesar Chavez March to take place Saturday, March 25; City holiday on March 31
Former scholarship recipient’s goal is to fulfill Cesar Chavez’s legacy