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Good man in Grimes remembered
Jesus Ayala remembers his father as a man who loved being around animals and enjoyed going to work each and every day.
Perhaps his most special memory, however, are the family trips to Mexico for Christmas.
Roberto Ayala, 43, was remembered Friday as a good family man, a good friend and an active member of the Grimes community.
Two benches were dedicated in his memory next to the field behind Grand Island Elementary School, which Ayala attended as a boy.
Ayala was killed on July 16, 2011, in an explosion purposefully set, and according to the Colusa County Sheriff's Department, the Grimes man was the target.
Paul Moore is facing murder charges in connection with the death.
But that is not why Ayala's family gathered with the Grand Island students and staff and community members to dedicate the benches in their loved one's memory.
They were there to remember Ayala as a good husband, a good father, uncle and friend to the community.
He had been a coach in the school district and in the community, and was well-known for doing what he could to help his family and friends.
They also gathered to champion the students who started the campaign to raise money for the benches, an effort that included collecting recyclables at the campus, but also included community donations.
Gus and Roger Moore donated some material for the benches, and Davis Machine Shop in Meridian did the fabrication.
Grand Island teacher Kelli Garcia said the idea came from students in the after-school program, one of whom was Ayala's son, who witnessed the explosion.
"They wanted to do a memorial for the family," Garcia said prior to the brief ceremony, which culminated in the Ayala family releasing a dozen blue balloons into the air.
It was an emotional scene with tears flowing from family members and others who gathered, but also one of hope and purpose to carry forward in the future.
That was accentuated with a party after the ceremony, and stories about Ayala.