Full service gas station closes after 45 years

Robert De La Fuente of De La Fuente Service Station stands outside his business on Friday, when he closed the doors to his establishment after 45 years of operation. (Staff photo by Michael Rodriguez)

Robert De La Fuente of De La Fuente Service Station stands outside his business on Friday, when he closed the doors to his establishment after 45 years of operation. (Staff photo by Michael Rodriguez)

By MICHAEL RODRIGUEZ
Managing Editor
editor@sbnewspaper.com

For nearly half a century, De La Fuente Service Station has served the San Benito area as a full service gas station, even when those fancy new self service pumps began springing up everywhere.

According to owner Robert De La Fuente, there was just something about going to a full service station that left customers feeling satisfied.

“I started as a full service station and kept it that way, even when the company wanted me to have a drive-thru,” De La Fuente said. “The only thing I ever changed was I installed self service pumps. People just like to have their tires, batteries and oil checked.”

But after 45 years of business, De La Fuente closed his station on Friday, March 1, citing health reasons. At the age of 78, and after suffering a stroke last year, De La Fuente said he felt it was time to close his doors. “I had a stroke last year and it kind of slowed me down,” De La Fuente said. “So I’m selling it, but I hope somebody will come and take it over.”

De La Fuente, a Korean War veteran who served four years with the Navy, where his two sons also served, first opened his business on Crockett Street in front of what used to be the old HEB and is now the San Benito CISD John F. Barron Administration Building. After 13 years at that location, De La Fuente moved his station to where it’s resided the majority of its near 50 years in operation, on 366 E. Stenger St.

In what may be the only full service gas station in town, the closing of De La Fuente marks the end of an era in San Benito. To some, it’s the closing of a chapter in the city’s history. “You don’t see that anymore,” Santiago R. Garcia said of De La Fuente Service Station. “I don’t know of any other service stations where they go out and pump gas for you.”

Garcia, who serves as Chief of the San Benito CISD Police Department, has known De La Fuente for years.

“I’m happy for him,” Garcia said of De La Fuente’s retirement. “He’s worked all his life, and it’s about time for him to sit back and relax, enjoy what he likes to do most, and that’s spending time with his family.”

Hector “Chuck” Jalomo, Assistant City Manager for the City of San Benito, said he was unaware of the station’s closure and expressed sadness once informed of as much. “It’s a sad thing to see go,” Jalomo said. “It’s something that you don’t see hardly anywhere, and we do business there, as far as the City of San Benito. We take our vehicles there every now and then to get inspection stickers. It was just nice to go to a place with full service because you don’t see that anymore.”

“I’m pretty sure that a lot of people are going to miss it,” Jalomo added.

Though initially sharing similar sentiments, De La Fuente said he’s looking forward to his retirement. “At first I was,” De La Fuente said when asked if closing his business saddened him, “but I thought about it real hard, and it’s about time.”

Read this story in the March 3 edition of the San Benito News, or subscribe to our E-Edition by clicking here.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.sbnewspaper.com/2013/03/01/full-service-gas-station-closes-after-45-years/

5 comments

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    • Melva Tamez on March 7, 2013 at 8:14 am
    • Reply

    My Dear Pop —

    Thank you for these 45 years of serving the people of San Benito. You did it with alot of price and happiness. I will never forget the summers when we (me, Jr. Javier and Gito) worked at the station. Those times were the greatest memories for me. When I began working summers, you took us to San Benito Bank & Trust to open each of our checking accounts and taught us how to keep/balance a checkbook. Once summer was over, we used our checkbooks with the money we had earned to buy our own clothes for schools. This was the most valuable lesson you taught me and my brothers. Pop, thank you very much for also teaching us to work hard, loyalty to the job, and the honest of running a business. Both you and Mom have instilled that work ethic throughout all these years. Hopefully now you can rest and do what you have always wanted to do after retirement. I respect you Pop and I love you very much….Your “only” daughter Melva

    • Mary L.Saldana on March 5, 2013 at 12:50 pm
    • Reply

    Happy Retirement Mr. D. It’s time to enjoy yourself with your family. God Bless you and may he give you many years of retirement.

    • Micky Chamberlain on March 2, 2013 at 6:03 pm
    • Reply

    When I went to San Benito the first time over 20 years ago, this was the first place I stopped. When I went last May for vacation, this was the first place I stopped. This is the end of an era. It’s sad to see it go, but Robert has worked hard all his life and has certainly earned his retirement. Hope he has many more happy years with his kids and grandkids. My grandkids spent some of their happiest times there with their Grandpa.

    • Richard on March 2, 2013 at 5:26 pm
    • Reply

    The passing of an era. My first job outside the farm was pumping gas, checking oil, air pressure, cleaning windshields and making sure not to open a hot radiator. All for .19 a gallon. Good old days…..sorry to see it closed. Happy retirement !

    • Mercedes Meza Guzman on March 2, 2013 at 3:14 pm
    • Reply

    Happy Retirement Mr. D. love you and may God bless you!!! xoxo

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