American Dad

Carl Robinette

Fri June 6, 2014 12:11pm

He was an all-star athlete and a high school senior. She was a sophomore. Years later, after rediscovering each other in college, they got married and started a family. Bernardo Vasquez grew up in Chula Vista and now he is living the American dream in Eastlake with his wife of 23 years, Adriana. He is a small business owner, upstanding community member and dedicated father of two girls and one boy. Bernardo’s life defies  cynicism.
“The secret to having a good strong marriage is the secret to any important relationship you have in your life. It’s a two way street,” said Bernardo. “It’s compromise, dedication, obviously love, and understanding that anything worth having, that is good, requires work.”
He immigrated to the United States from Mexico with his parents when he was 6. His father, never having more than a third-grade education, worked manual labor jobs to give Bernardo more than he had been given.
“As a dad I kind of look back to how I was raised. My dad didn’t graduate high school but he was a really hard worker and he sacrificed to give his kids the next step up. I want to do the same for my kids. I want to set the bar higher for them.”
His oldest daughter, 18-year-old Sienna, lives in El Paso, Texas, now. She is studying to be a veterinarian. Bernardo is still adjusting to the idea of his children growing up.
“What really kind of got me to realize that your kids and your family are so important is when my daughter moved,” Bernardo said. “It’s like, wow. She’s gone.”
His first eye-opener came during the teenage years when suddenly the kids stopped thinking it was cool to have dad on campus. Bernardo, a longtime classroom volunteer and PTA member, now volunteers more at the district level to give his kids their independence.
“You know, in elementary they love to see you, ‘Oh Dad’s here,’” he said. “Once they get to like seventh or eighth grade it’s like, ‘Oh no, Dad.’ Don’t help out on campus.”
His son Armand, 16, is now a member of the Eastlake High robotics team and a World War I and World War II buff. Elena, 13, is the youngest and a one-time soccer all-star turned dancer.
Of course, life is not perfect and Bernardo has seen his share of challenges, like opening up his own State Farm insurance agency in Chula Vista in 2007, right before the recession struck.
“The first three or four years, because of the economy and people losing homes and losing the ability to spend, it was hard. But we weathered through it, luckily, with my family’s support, my wonderful wife, my kids. I also have my in-laws here in South Bay, my mom, my two sisters and my brother and their spouses. With the support of the entire family we weathered through.”
Life is good for the Eastlake father in 2014. He is president of the Eastlake Business Association, and actively involved in the lives and education of his children.