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Jose Luis Flores, Laguna’s legendary and beloved hotel maintenance engineer, dies at 49

Just one week short of his 50th birthday, on December 17, 2020, Jose Luis Flores, beloved employee of two Laguna hotels spanning 25 years, passed away from brain cancer. Services were held on December 31. He is survived by his wife and three children.

A hotel maintenance engineer, Jose took enormous pleasure in his work, according to friends, co-workers, and employers, and always felt a part of the community. In particular he loved Laguna Beach’s beauty, so much so that he would arrive early before work to run on the beach and breathe in the ocean air. Laguna was a very important part of his life.

Jose’s brother, who works in the same department at Pacific Edge Hotel, says the hardest part will be coming in every day and not having his brother there, after working together for the last 21 years. 

Jose Luis Flores

Submitted photo

Jose Luis Flores

Jose and his brother were first employed by the Haneline family, the former owners of Vacation Village, now the Pacific Edge Hotel, in the late 90s. 

Christine Haneline, along with her brother Russ, says the Flores men were the best employees they’d ever had. 

“They were such a great family. Their mother passed away when they were young boys. Jose’s father came to work for us and he was such a great man, raising both Jose and his brother to be wonderful men, husbands, and fathers. Jose was an overall great guy, always talking about his wife and kids – he was proud of them and loved them dearly.

“The three men were the backbone of our maintenance department and they provided excellent customer service that made our hotel so successful. Jose was not only an incredible employee, but he was extremely hardworking. He was always eager to learn something new and always cheerful. The entire staff and our guests at Vacation Village loved Jose. 

“We sponsored Jose’s path to citizenship, and he was so proud when he became a U.S. citizen. We were deeply saddened to hear of his sudden passing.” 

Kurt Bjorkman, general manager of The Ranch at Laguna Beach, and formerly of the Pacific Edge Hotel, is full of praise for the man.

“I had the fortune of being able to work with Jose both here at The Ranch and at Pacific Edge Hotel,” Bjorkman says. “Jose committed virtually his entire life to Laguna Beach hospitality, making two legendary properties shine and their guests feel welcomed. I am humbled by his accomplishments. We need to have more people in this world with a heart for service such as Jose’s ─ it would be a much better place to live in.”

Praise pours in for a well-loved man

Co-workers and friends were devastated to hear the news.

“Jose was a good friend, co-worker, and a good person. I’m sending my prayers and condolences to his family and [prayers] for God to bless them and give them strength to help alleviate the loss of such an incredible person,” says Jose Rivera, former chief engineer at The Ranch at Laguna Beach.

Jack Dexter, golf manager at former Ben Brown’s, and now at The Ranch at Laguna Beach, adds, “Truly one of the best. Such a great human being. God rest his soul.” 

Martin Espinoza, engineer at The Ranch, says, “For my friend Jose, may God have you in his glory. Thank you for the things you taught me, you will be missed. Goodbye friend, until soon.”

Clearly, Jose was an exceptional man, as evidenced by the outpouring of emotion from friends and colleagues, and his well-earned reputation for his dedication to the work he loved.

“Jose Flores was a model employee and had such a kind heart. He showed up to work on time, with a smile on his face, and a positive and can-do attitude,” says Lisa Rosecrans, director of human resources at The Ranch. “He was passionate about his work and his family. Jose was the definition of hospitality, making people feel welcome and at home.”

May he rest in peace.