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The Man Who Sang Songs In the Desert

Posted on Monday, April 22nd, 2013.

StoryCorps met Leslie Salazar and Bill Sears during a recording trip to Los Angeles, California. Leslie and Bill met at Cedar’s Sinai Medical Center when Bill, a cardiac patient liaison , formed a friendship with Ruben Salazar, Leslie’s father. Leslie and Bill came to StoryCorps to remember Ruben’s life and his final moments.

Bill Sears and Leslie Salazar

Bill Sears and Leslie Salazar

Leslie reflected on Ruben’s life and the legacy he leaves behind for his family.

“My dad was a phenomenal man, the son of a immigrant father. My dad created everything on his own, from the time he was 18 he had nothing. He broke a cycle of drug addiction, alcoholism and gang violence and created an amazing family tree that will continue to flourish.”

“You also told me how he sang in the desert at nighttime.” Bill spent a lot of time with Ruben in his room, listening to stories of his military service and career as an air-traffic controller. Bill became an adopted member of Ruben’s family, learning about the family’s traditions.

“That’s the one thing I miss, he would play guitar and ukelele.” Leslie recalled, “he taught us all Mexican Folk songs.”

Ruben Salazar

Ruben Salazar

Ruben passed away at Cedar Sinai medical center and the family guided him through his last moments, being present as he took his last breathe. Leslie and her family sang Ruben’s folk songs in the hospital after his passing and later had a bonfire and send off for him on his favorite beach in California.

“I think if your dad was looking down he’d say wow, how proud he is of you.”

“I think he is very proud of his family”

Though it was the difficulty of losing that brought Leslie and Bill together, their friendship remains strong and they continue to bond over the memories they share.

StoryCorps Legacy provides people of all ages with serious illness and their families the opportunity to record, preserve and share their stories.

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