By Magda Campbell
Vail pioneer, Eddie B Lopez, third generation in the Vail area, passed away just short of his 89th birthday, this past May 18th. Eddie came to the Vail area as a young boy along with his older brother and parents. Two generations of family before him had also lived and worked in the Vail area. His parents worked on the Beach Ranch near Mt. Fagan. Eddie attended Vail schools and graduated from Tucson High School. In Vail, he attended grade school and grew up with his Lopez and Leon cousins, the Mayer’s, and Bravo and Figueroa cousins. His early upbringing on the ranches in Vail would lead to his love for ranching and what he continued full time after retiring from his full-time job as a heavy equipment operator, (Local 428) in the early 90’s.
The Rita Ranch area was desolate, much different than it is today, and people got around either by horseback or by vehicle on the gas line roads and, as young children, we rode along with him as he tended to his ranching chores. His parents had state land leases to raise cattle and horses in the Tucson/Vail area and these were passed down to him when they could no longer ranch.
These leases and cattle ranching continue in our family today although more and more development continues to grow all around them. My dad was the rancher who was forever fixing fences and chasing trespassers off the state grazing lands as the city encroached and the area became more populated. His cows still get out today in the Rita Ranch area and are a hot topic on Facebook as they cruise the Walmart parking lot and Houghton Road neighborhoods.
Mr. Lopez is predeceased by his oldest son and older brother, Eddie B. as he was known, will be missed by surviving spouse Maria of 40 years, 2 sisters, 4 children, 6 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren, many who still live in the Vail area.