>Sonora / Tuolumne News, Sports, & Weather, Angels Camp, Twain Harte, Jamestown | Union Democrat

News Classifieds Web
web powered by Web Search Powered by Google

Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow Navarra: Kid who captured hearts dies

Navarra: Kid who captured hearts dies

A beaming Edison Navarra from the Philippines meets Santa Claus for the first time in 1999. File photo, Copyright 2013.
A young immigrant from the Philippines who captured the hearts of many in Tuolumne County as a child burn victim has died.

Edison Navarra, 23, suffered a fatal seizure Monday at his friend’s home in Sacramento. 

Navarra was born Jan. 18, 1990, in Tacloban City in the Republic of the Philippines. He lived in an orphanage in Manila after being abandoned by his parents and intentionally burned by a cousin. 

Ulysses Verceles, of Sonora, was visiting relatives in the Philippines in 1999 when he decided to visit a nearby orphanage. He met the 9-year-old boy, who was sitting by himself at lunch and displaying obvious burns. 

The director of the orphanage told Verceles a cousin had wrapped Edison in a blanket, doused it with gasoline and set it on fire with a blowtorch.  

When Verceles returned to the United States, he approached Ron Cole, president of the Mother Lode Shrine Club. The two made arrangements with Shriners Hospital for Children in Sacramento to get the boy free treatment and surgeries he could not have gotten otherwise.

With donated tickets from Philippine Airlines, they brought Edison and his guardian, Honorio “Ogie” Santos, to Sonora. They lived with Verceles while Shriners Hospital treated the boy.

Along with treatment, Edison got another thing he may have never gotten otherwise: The American experience. The boy was described as “grinning from ear to ear” as, for the first time, he watched “Batman” on television, met Santa Claus at Christmastime and ate at McDonald’s. 

He underwent numerous surgeries, including skin grafts that would lessen the appearance of his injuries.

His guardian, Santos, was there for him through it all. He was there for Navarra’s fourth-grade schooling when he arrived, with the boy still needing to learn to read and write. His teacher, Gretchen Dryden, taught him these critical tasks — and also married Santos.

Navarra returned alone to the Philippines for a few years, then moved to Sacramento. He was living in San Francisco with Santos most recently.

Shriners Hospital could no longer offer its services after Navarra passed age 21 — though a plastic surgeon there voluntarily finished an operation to give him prosthetic ears.

San Francisco General Hospital picked up the slack and continued free care, specifically for neurological treatment, when Navarra began having seizures a few years ago.

Despite his hardships, Navarra was attending San Francisco City College and taking general education and computer classes up until his death.

He is survived by his younger brother, Kim Navarra, of the Philippines. 

A viewing and Rosary will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday at Terzich and Wilson Funeral Home, 225 E. Rose St., Sonora. Mass will be celebrated 11:30 a.m. at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, 127 W. Jackson St., Sonora. 

He will be buried at Dambacher Mountain Memorial at 22394 Lyons Bald Mountain Road in Sonora. 

Terzich and Wilson Funeral Home is handling arrangements. 

Donations may be made in his memory to Shriners Hospital, 2425 Stockton Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95817. 

Contact Austen Thibault at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or 588-4525.

Follow UnionDemocrat.com

Get Today's Top Headlines to your inbox

The Union Democrat print edition

The Union Democrat 11/28/15

View Paper

The Union Democrat is now online in a Replica E-edition form and publishes Tuesday through Saturday. E-Edition or Print Plus subscribers have full access.


If you are not a current subscriber, subscribe today for immediate access. Circulation: 209-533-3614

View all The Union Democrat print publications

Weekender by The Union Democrat

Weekly Arts and entertainment guide for Calaveras and Tuolumne counties

Weekender 11/26/15

View Guide

Available online every Friday or get it early in Thursday's print edition.

View past copies of the weekender

Local / Sports / Business / Stocks / News of Record / State / Nation/World / Obituaries / Submit News
Editorials / Letters
Union Democrat Photos / Community Photos /
Search Classifieds / Jobs / Autos / Homes / Rentals / Place an Ad
Online Extras
Weather / Local Business Links / Community Links / Photo Reprints
Union Democrat
About / Contact / Commercial Printing / Subscriptions / Terms of Use / Site Map

© Copyright 2001 - 2015 Western Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. By Using this site you agree to our Terms of Use