IDAHO — Local community members are mourning the death of Jesse Berain, an advocate who shed light on the struggles Latinos have faced in Idaho over the decades.
“From the early days in the 60s and 70s in Twin Falls. He’s always been involved in the issues and advocating for the Latino community. A very tough job,” said Humberto Fuentes, president, and CEO of the Hispanic Cultural Center of Idaho (HCCI). “I knew him when he was a radio announcer in Twin Falls.”
Berain passed away on April 10 at the age of 92. Fuentes said he worked with Berain on many Latino issues.
“We had a lot of challenges there was a lot of discrimination on Latinos, Hispanics, and especially farmworkers,” Fuentes said. “There was a lot of room for improvement in education, housing and he was always very involved and help push the Latino agenda. We just worked over the years of many issues, including minimum wage for farmworkers, workers compensation, farmworker sanitation all of the major advances we had here in the state it took a lot of us, and Jesse, of course, was a big player helping us accomplished those goals.”
Berain served in the Idaho legislature from 1992 to 1995 and continued to advocate for Latino communities all of his life. He also played a role in establishing HCCI, served as the Idaho Human rights Commission director and at one point headed the Idaho Office on Aging.
Corrine Tafoya Fisher who volunteers and is a board member at the cultural center says she knew Berain’s wife Maria Andrea, who passed away on March 21 of this year. She said the couple was known as generous people, who gave back to those in need.
“I know they will be missed, both of them were really active. They gave their heart and soul to the Hispanic community,” Tafoya Fisher said.
Several people have gone to social media and share memories about the Idaho couple, including Boise City Council President Pro Tem Lisa Sánchez. On Facebook, she wrote,
“Jesse and Maria Andrea opened their home to many, many college students and mentored many of us over the years. They were true community leaders who gave us all that they could for as long as they could. They are leaving a huge hole in our community and in our hearts. They deserve to rest together after all they've done for us.”
Danny Martinez a volunteer with HCCI wrote “Jesse and Andrea were always the life of the party, their love would shine like a beacon for all to see! Two of the most loving people I have ever met! I will miss them both but will cherish the fond memories of spending cherished moments with each of them! Both, Together in Heaven now. I loved them both dearly.”