“Fighting for life” -Bob Eula
Remembering Bob Eula, co-founder of East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice and his fighting spirit:
We recently heard the news that Bob Eula passed away, on January 16, 2020. Our hearts are heavy as we remember Bob and the formative work he did as a co-founder of East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice. East Yard’s foundational work with Bob started about 20 years ago. Most of the early East Yard members grew up in the City of Commerce. This was true for Bob but many years before the rest of us, still we all had that connection to the neighborhood. Bob was definitely a well-known person in the area due to his community leadership and political career. In our small community, Bob was the mayor and presented many of us our preschool “diplomas.” Around 2001, many of us really got to know Bob in an immense way. Just around that time Bob, Gilbert Estrada and a number of other community members started East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice. At that time, our community was under attack (and still is) from a barrage of diesel pollution from the rail yards, heavy duty trucks from the 710 freeway, and numerous other polluting sources like Exide and Refuse to Energy that caused illness and death for many of our family members and neighbors. At the time, the community was up against many forces and didn’t know whether to fight or run. It was Bob that said, “We got to bond together and fight for our community. We have no other choice.” Later Bob would come up with East Yard’s tag line, Fighting for Life. The day he presented the idea to the group, he pulled out a piece of paper with the phrase that his grandson illustrated in Old English lettering. Bob explained we have been fighting, and we will continue to fight, for life – for the lives of our families and the lives of our community. Nothing will stop us.
Bob taught us many other things, too. He codified the compassion and love rooted in endurance and resiliency; he taught us the power of collective leadership. Bob was a bit older than most of us and he always stressed the importance of intergenerational organizing. This work that linked generations, combined with his ability to work with anyone that had the same goal of protecting our community, was transformative for us. Bob was a pretty conservative guy but throughout our time together he would work hand in hand with the most radical people, both old and young. He demonstrated through his actions the effectiveness and need to work across differences. This type of engagement provided opportunity for growth for both the organized and the organizer. Most know that Bob had his moments; he knew he wasn’t always right and he would say it is never to late to learn and do the right thing. He was open to learning. He wasn’t a pushover but he would be the first person to say he was wrong and willing to change his position if it was the just and right thing to do. Bob was a mentor, a leader and force that cannot be replaced.
Bob will be missed but the work he forged with East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice will endure as we continue to Fight for Life!
-Angelo Logan (EYCEJ Co-Founder)