Mario Valadez, 82; Known as ‘Mayor’ of Olvera Street

Mario Valadez, the veteran managing director of El Pueblo de Los Angeles Inc. or, as he was known familiarly, the “mayor” of Olvera Street, has died.

His daughter Susanne said her father had retired about 10 years ago and that he was 82 and died Jan. 22 in a Los Angeles hospital after a heart attack.

Born in Gomez Palacio, in the Mexican state of Durango, Valadez was working for American employers in Mexico who encouraged him to come to the United States to find a better job.

Trained as a secretary, he came to Los Angeles in 1926 but had to wash hotel windows for a time before getting a job as a teacher of Spanish in a private school.


In 1933, he met Christine Sterling, then managing director and liaison with the craftsmen and shopkeepers of Olvera Street. She needed a translator, and he served as her assistant until her death in 1963, when he succeeded her.

His survivors include his wife, Belle, one son, two daughters and three grandchildren.