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Chuck Wing, Deseret News
John Renteria

Long-time community advocate John Renteria, 56, died June 29, 2008, in Salt Lake City.

Mr. Renteria was a lifetime Salt Lake resident who had served terms both as executive director and president of Centro Civico Mexicano, a west-side community center founded in 1939. Renteria had been involved with the organization since the 1970s, when he served his first term on the board while a student at the University of Utah.

He was also involved with the Utah Coalition of La Raza, Crossroads Urban Center and other community groups. He had served on the board of Utah Legal Services for more than 20 years.

Mr. Renteria ran two unsuccessful campaigns for Salt Lake City mayor, most recently in 2007. He had also made unsuccessful bids for the state Legislature.

Friends remembered him as a community activist and defender of social justice.

"He was never discouraged," said Lloyd Mondragon. "He said the issues need to be spoken ... he cared about the underdog."

During his 2007 bid for mayor, Mr. Renteria had sought a master plan focused on west-side growth.

"I feel that I'm much more representing what the city needs these days with regards to a community-connected candidate, of having been in the trenches, working with the people, working with community-based organizations," Mr. Renteria had said in a July 2007 interview with the Deseret News.

Mr. Renteria had come under fire in 2007 for declining to step down as Centro Civico's president after being jailed briefly for probation violation for misdemeanor traffic violations. He was eventually ousted by the board.

Since then, the organization's current president, Margarita Rodriguez, said those issues had been resolved and Mr. Renteria continued to work with the organization.

There will be a viewing at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Neil O'Donnell & Sons, 372 E. 100 South, followed by a 7:30 p.m. vigil. The funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at Our Lady of Guadalupe, 715 W. 300 North. A community wake will also be held at 4 p.m. Thursday at Centro Civico.