The state of Arizona and the lowrider nation have lost a great man. Richard “Big Rich” Gonzales of Phoenix, Arizona, passed away in late April from complications of diabetes and was laid to rest in early May. Big Rich was a co-founder and former president of Majestics Car Club in Arizona and he contributed much to the lowriding/Hispanic community, especially to all new, up-and-coming car clubs. To them, he’s a legend. Big Rich was also a husband, father, friend and mentor.

Big Rich touched so many hearts and his influence extended well beyond the local lowrider scene. He knew people in car clubs from California, Texas and New Mexico. His funeral service on May 3 attracted scores of mourners who came to pay their respects, including many Majestics C.C. members from chapters far and near.

Also in attendance was Bob Golfen of The Arizona Republic, who wrote, “Richard Gonzales was buried Thursday [May 3] in a brightly painted casket as gleaming and fanciful as the cars that he created. His funeral procession was a parade of candy-colored custom lowriders, their cheerfully showy paint jobs and lavish murals belying the solemnity of the west Phoenix gathering.”

“In their back windows, many displayed the car club plaque of the Majestics but with black ribbons draped across the bright logo. As they drove from the funeral home to SS Simon and Jude Cathedral, then to a Glendale cemetery, they raised, lowered and bounced the unique lowrider cars on their signature hydraulic suspensions.”

“The painting of Gonzales’ casket was a major undertaking by the same group of professional painters [including Alex Lopez, pinstriper Efrain “Buggs” Gonzales and airbrush artist “Sage Rock”] that helped create his most famous car, a ’73 Chevy Impala convertible named ‘Wet Fantasy.’ The rich, deeply reflective paint, with pinstriping and graphics, was designed to emulate that car. Gonzales was buried with one of the original Majestics plaques given to the young Phoenix chapter by the California group as well as with four large banners, one from each Arizona chapter.”

Big Rich left a big imprint on those who were fortunate enough to know him. You can visit his Arizona Republic “guestbook” at www.legacy.com/AZCentral/GB/GuestbookView.aspx?PersonId=87706140 and see how many people loved and admired Big Rich, and read all of the great things that this man did for the lowrider community and especially the Hispanic community. RIP, Big Rich.

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