Helen F. Chavez, 87, is the widow of civil rights and farm labor leader Cesar Chavez. She was born in the Imperial Valley town of Brawley, Calif. and lived with her family in a converted horse barn near McFarland, in the Central Valley, where they were farm workers. Helen met Cesar Chavez when they were both living in nearby Delano, Calif. during the 1940s. They married shortly after he was discharged from the U.S. Navy in 1948. Helen Chavez moved with her husband and their eight small children to Delano in 1962, where they began building what would become the United Farm Workers of America. A genuinely humble person, Helen Chavez, whose strong leadership also underlined the UFW, insisted on remaining in the background while Cesar Chavez arguably became the most important Latino social and political figure of the 20th century. She still resides in the small wood-frame house she shared with her husband at what is now the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument at La Paz in Keene, Calif.
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