By LANCE ARMSTRONG
This week marks a very special anniversary for Garcia Realty owner Eva Garcia, as it has been 50 years since she obtained her real estate license.
During an interview with this publication last week, Eva, 74, discussed the events in her life that led to this special anniversary.
Eva was born and raised in Mexico City by her mother, who was also named Eva, and her father, Jorge.
Her family had a unique connection to Mexico City, as one of its members, Agustin Delgado, established that city’s first tannery about 150 years ago. And the Eva, who is the subject of this article and the only Eva who will be referred to for the remainder of this profile, noted that the tannery is still in operation.
Eva, who was the oldest of four children, attended the private school, Colegio Francés (French College), from when she was 3 to 16 years old, and learned to speak four languages, Spanish, English, French and Italian.
During her childhood, she enjoyed swimming and riding her bicycle to a nearby park.
Eva, who came to America at the age of 19, said that her decision to marry Frank Garcia, a San Bernardino native whose family dates back to the pre-United States years of California, was not especially well received by her father.
“When I came home and told my father I was going to marry an American, he had a fit,” Eva said. “He said, ‘Why do you want to marry an American?’ And I said, ‘Well, he’s a nice guy.’ I had known him for about six months and I decided to marry him. I came from a very strict family. I was 14 before I could cross the street by myself. So, I think that drove me to get out of the house. I was lucky that (Frank) became a very good man, a great husband, a great father. We were married for 48 years before he died.”
Eva’s marriage to Frank occurred on Aug. 10, 1957.
Eva and Frank returned from their honeymoon to discover a telegram that informed them that the airport in Ontario, Calif., where Frank worked, had been closed.
Frank received unemployment benefits, and Eva became one of 17 women to apply for a bookkeeper position at a department store.
After being selected to work in that position, Eva progressed from part-time to full-time employment with the store.
A benefit to the Garcias’ financial situation around that time was Frank’s purchase of property in San Bernardino.
In 1960, the couple moved to Berkeley, where Frank attended the University of California, Berkeley full time through his veteran benefits that he acquired through his service in the Korean War.
During the same time, Eva attended that university as a part-time student, and both Frank and Eva were co-owners of a Berkeley restaurant called Mr. Pizza, on Shattuck Avenue.
In 1962, the Garcias ended their involvement with the restaurant and moved to Sacramento.
In explaining that time in her life, Eva said, “I found myself pregnant after being married (five) years. McClellan (Air Force Base) told (Frank), if you move to Sacramento, we’ll pay all the maternity. So, he took the job (as a computer programmer at McClellan) right away.”
Eva said that during the following year, she met a woman who changed the course of her life.
“We met this woman and she had a baby, too, and she said, ‘Why don’t you go into real estate?’ And she talked my husband into getting his license.”
And to assist Frank, who received his real estate license in January 1963, Eva obtained her real estate license on May 19, 1963.
In 1967, Frank and Eva both took the broker test and then opened Garcia Realty within the same year. The business operated for many years at 910 21st St., which was formerly the site of Blair Realty.
During the 1980s, Garcia Realty grew to include three locations and 75 agents. These locations were 2014 28th St., 8301 Folsom Blvd. and on Fruitridge Road, near Franklin Boulevard.
A 1981 advertisement for the business partially reads: “Garcia Realty. Se habla Espanol. Residential, income property, investments, property management.”
Eva and Frank worked together until about 1994, when Frank opened a second hand store on Del Paso Boulevard.
Frank, who operated the latter named business until about 1999, passed away eight years ago.
During her career, Eva accomplished many things, one of which was establishing herself in a then-mostly male dominated field.
In discussing this latter point, Eva said, “It was very interesting, because some brokers didn’t have any women. They would tell me, ‘Oh, women will never make it in this business.’”
But fortunately for Eva, she was determined to succeed as a real estate business owner, in part due to her pride that she had become a local pioneer, as Sacramento’s first Latina broker.
Another facet of Eva’s life was her involvement in education and politics.
Following the March 14, 1974 death of the longtime Sacramento City Unified School District board member Genevieve Didion, Eva was appointed as the first Mexican-American to serve on that board. And Eva was twice re-elected to that position.
A 1983 city council resolution honoring Eva noted that she “championed better bilingual education in Sacramento and has advocated that our educational system return to the basics in education.”
She resigned from the school board in 1982 to fill the California State Board of Education seat of Robert Arroyo of Fresno.
Eva was also elected president of the Women’s Council of Realtors in 1976, and she was later appointed president of the Multiple Listing Service (now known as MetroList) of the Sacramento Board of Realtors.
In 1981, Eva became the state president of the Women’s Council of Realtors.
Many locals remember Eva’s service as a member of the Sacramento City Council. She officially became the representative for District 6 on Dec. 28, 1982 during the term of Mayor Burnett Miller.
Since the early 1990s, Eva has been a member of the California Association of Realtors Board of Directors.
She also presently serves as an alternate for the California Real Estate Association Political Action Committee. However, she will be a trustee of the organization next year.
Eva has also won many awards, including being named “Woman of the Year” by Soroptimist International in 1970 and “Realtor of the Year” by the Sacramento Chapter of the Women’s Council of Realtors for 1994-95.
In her spare time, Eva enjoys traveling (she has been to 65 countries), spending time at her second home in Mexico City, walking, leisure gambling at casinos and attending book club meetings.
Eva, who, on average, reads 16 books per year, said that she especially likes to read mystery novels and biographies.
Today, Garcia Realty is located at 2100 28th Street, and is also represented by Eva’s son, Franco Garcia, Realtor; Eva’s daughter, Rosanna Garcia, Realtor; and Rosanna’s husband, Jeff Slodowitz, broker and property management.
Eva said that she has a long running joke that her children were introduced to real estate so early in their lives that their first words were “escrow” and “lock box.”
In explaining her business’s philosophy, “We measure our success one family at a time,” Eva said, “I don’t pretend that I can go sell 1,200 houses a year or anything like that. We just do one client at a time, service them right, make sure that everything is in order, make sure that they understand all the paperwork and everything.”
Eva added that although she has had various opportunities to close her office and join larger real estate organizations, it was important to her to maintain her own business, in part to inspire other Latinos to succeed in business.
“For years, I have been wooed by the franchises (and told), ‘Close your office, come with us, we’ll give you a nice office.’ Coldwell Banker, Red Carpet when they began Realty World, they all came to me and they said, ‘Close your office.’ But I felt very strongly (about being a positive role model) for the Latino community. ‘If she made it, I can make it. If they made it, we can make it.’ That’s important for me.”
Toward the end of her interview with this paper, Eva was asked what it means to her to celebrate the 50th anniversary of obtaining her real estate license.
“(It is) very satisfying to see that I’m still (involved in real estate and) in business,” Eva said. “There are a lot of people who closed their doors. We’re thriving and I hope that my kids keep it going, because it is important.”