By Ismael Martinez
Gilbert Lopez was born Sept. 30, 1919, in Azusa, northeast of Los Angeles. His father, Victorio Jose Lopez, worked for the Works Progress Administration (WPA) as a stonemason. Lopez' mother, Dephene Lopez, was a homemaker, raising the couple's eight children.
During the Depression years, Lopez remembers growing up in poverty and attending Irwindale School without shoes. As a small boy, official segregation forced Latinos to sit in separate sections of public buildings, such as movie theaters.