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Artemisa Aguilar Torres was born in 1931 in Chandler to Juan and Francisca Aguilar, in a small home near Hidalgo Street. Juan Aguilar worked as a hay baler, as a laborer, and as a night watchman for the Boswell Cotton Gin, and as a landscaper for the San Marcos Hotel. Artemisa attended Winn School and St. Mary’s School until 8th grade. Artemisa grew up in a family of six girls and three boys, in a home provided by the Boswell Company. She fondly recalls playing in piles of cottonseed, and that life on Hidalgo Street was very peaceful. She was 20 years old when she met Frank.
Frank Torres was born in Ontario, California in 1930, to Francisco and Margarita Torres. Frank, raised in Ontario, enlisted in the Air Force before the beginning of the Korean War. He spent 35 years in military and civil service, working as an aircraft electrician. He spent four years in active duty during his initial enlistment in Illinois, Texas and Arizona. He was assigned to Williams Air Force Base in 1951, and met Artemisa that same year, through his friendship with her brother, Richard.
Artemisa and Frank married in 1952 at St. Mary’s Church, located on north Colorado Street. They initially lived with Artemisa’s aunt, and then moved out of state due to Frank’s military service. Their first child Frances was born in 1953. They settled permanently in Chandler in 1958 with the purchase of their home on north Delaware Street. In the early 1970s, Frank joined the League of Latin American Citizens (LULAC), which introduced a Head Start program in Maricopa County schools. He also helped educate students about federal money available for college, and many of these went on to become lawyers and into other professions. Frank eventually became state director of the program, and has since retired from the League.
Frank has been involved in other community service activities. He helped bring Section 8 housing to Chandler and other Arizona cities to give affordable housing for low-income families. He also became county representative and chairman of Arizona’s Community Action, which provided food and monetary support to needy families. In addition, Frank was part of a group that organized and ran a small Hispanic dance hall called, “El Mambo.” Although adults mainly came to the club, in 1958, Frank started Friday night dances for teens, where he worked as a deejay until 1960. The gathering was similar to the “American Bandstand” program on TV. Frank also ran unsuccessfully for the City Council in 1975. Raul Navarette appointed Frank to the City’s Planning and Zoning Commission during his second term as Mayor.
Frank and Artemisa have three children: Frances, Anna Belle, and Michael, all of whom graduated from Chandler High. The Torres have lived at their current house on Delaware Street since 1958. Frank feels that the Hispanic history of Chandler is important because it educates people about their past and instills a sense of appreciation for the old families. Frank and Artemisa were upset when the original St. Mary’s Church was demolished, and feel that the history of Chandler is important to preserve.