Rafu Staff and Wire Reports
The City of Duarte released the following statement on June 27.
It is with deep sadness and profound grief that the City of Duarte mourns the passing of the mayor pro tem, the Honorable Tzeitel Paras-Caracci.
After a nearly three-year battle against Stage 4 lung cancer, she passed away at her home on Saturday, June 25, surrounded by her family. She often credited her long success in battling advanced-stage cancer to the doctors of City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, where she had been receiving treatment.
Tzeitel was born in Quezon City, Philippines on Aug. 8, 1972. She was named after the eldest daughter from the Broadway musical “Fiddler on the Roof.” Her family moved to Los Angeles in 1975, and then decided to settle in Duarte in 1985. She graduated from Duarte High School in 1989 and went on to graduate from Woodbury University in Burbank, before returning home to the city that she loved. In 2003, she and her husband K.C. purchased a home in Duarte, shortly after being married in Duarte’s Royal Oaks Park.
Tzeitel was first elected to the Duarte City Council in 2001, and served as mayor four times: in 2006, 2011, 2015, and 2019. She was the first Duarte High School graduate and Filipino American elected to the City Council. As a public servant she participated in many facets of government and civics in Duarte and beyond.
To name a few, she was elected by her colleagues to the National League of Cities Board of Directors, as well as the League of California Cities Board and more recently, as president of APAMO (Asian Pacific American Municipal Officials). She was also a director for the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts, a governing board member of Foothill Transit, and a board member of the Duarte Community Coordinating Council. She was also a long-time member of the Duarte Woman’s Club.
One of her proudest accomplishments was initiating the Mayor’s Youth Council to help students become familiar and active with government. Tzeitel was thankful every day to have the opportunity to make a difference and served the public for over 21 years on the City Council.
“We have suffered a huge loss in our city and I am profoundly saddened as Tzeitel was an immensely capable member of our council, as well as a great personal friend to me, as well as many others. Her smile and energy were infectious, and it was an honor to serve on council with her,” said Mayor Margaret Finlay. “On behalf of the council and city staff, we express our condolences to her family and offer our full support in this time of need.”
“Tzeitel was not only a colleague but a friend to me, my family, and as well as my mentor. She is the reason why I’m able to serve my community as councilmember for District 2.” said Councilmember Vinh Truong. “Tzeitel is and always will be Miss Hello Kitty Mayor of Duarte!”
“Tzeitel never ceased to amaze me,” said Councilmember Jody Schulz. “It was like a superpower how she did all that she did for others. She was a true leader and will be forever in our hearts. Our Duarte family faces a tremendous loss, but we must remember to also celebrate Tzeitel. She loved to dance, so play your favorite song and dance. I know in my heart that she will be smiling and dancing with us, always.”
“Tzeitel and I worked together for over 10 years,” said Councilmember Sam Kang. “She was a caring, passionate, hands-on leader. She never stopped working with her constituents to improve the quality of life in Duarte. I am so grateful to have had the pleasure of working with such an astounding leader. She will be dearly missed by all of us.”
“Tzeitel was not only a colleague, she was a mentor, a friend, my paisana!” said Councilmember Cesar Garcia. “I learned a lot from her and admired her genuineness. For Tzeitel it was never politics; she truly cared about the city, the youth, and making sure everyone in the community felt heard. Her smile would light up a room. She lived a life of service and served the City of Duarte for decades. Tzeitel was proud to be a public servant, but her biggest pride and joy was being her son Jack’s mom. I will miss her. Her legacy will live in everyone who knew her. My thoughts are with the Paras-Caracci family.”
“When I was first appointed, Tzeitel was my biggest cheerleader,” said Councilmember Toney Lewis. “I was about a week in and expressed that I wasn’t sure if I could do the job. She told me, ‘You can do this, Toney! You got this!’ I’ll miss her so much.”
Tzeitel leaves behind a legacy of passion and commitment for the city she loved. She is survived by her parents, Lino and Russel Paras, her husband, K.C. Caracci, stepdaughter, Dr. Blake Caracci, and their son, Jack Russell, her brothers, Bertrand and John Paul George and their wives.
In lieu of flowers, the family is asking those that wish to honor Tzeitel Paras-Caracci to donate to the City of Hope at http://cityofhope.org/giving/give-honor-or-memory.
A memorial service will be scheduled, and details will be posted to the City of Duarte website.
Filipino American local elected and appointed officials from Southern California issued a joint statement honoring Paras-Caracci as a “great trailblazer and community leader.”
“She served as an inspiration to her city and the Filipino American community. Her enthusiastic desire to serve others was inspirational to all of us. We will miss her as our fellow kababayan, but her legacy will live on. Our deepest condolences to the Paras-Caracci family and the City of Duarte,” the group said, represented by Artesia Mayor Melissa Ramoso, Lakewood Vice Mayor Ariel Pe, Bellflower Mayor Pro Tem Sonny Santa Ines, Sierra Madre Councilmember Rachelle Arizmendi, Cerritos Councilmember Frank Aurelio Yokoyama, West Covina Councilmember Letty Lopez-Viado, Carson Councilmember Arleen Bocatija Rojas, South Pasadena Councilmember Evelyn Zneimer, and Cerritos Councilmember Lynda Johnson.
Former Cerritos Mayor Mark Pulido, former Artesia Mayor Dr. Victor Manalo, former Culver City Mayor Thomas Small and Marissa Castro-Salvati, former member of the Los Angeles Civil Service Commission and Taxicab Commission, also signed the statement.