When the pews filled, the side aisle ways and back of the chapel filled next with the almost 500 mourners who came to pay their respects to and his family.
Pinon, who attended Monroe Junior High in the Campbell Union School District, was one of three killed on Oct. 5 by gunshot at the hands of Shareef Allman in a room at Lehigh Southwest Cement plant.
At his funeral services held Wednesday at Oak Hill Chapel in San Jose, family spokesperson and Pinon's aunt, Luz Brown, invited anyone who wished to speak to come to the podium. Pinon's childhood friend, Anthony Castro, told of how he and Pinon first met and how their friendship grew.
"Thirty-three years ago I ran into this skinny little kid with a big smile. He was wearing a Pendleton and it was button up like this," Castro said showing his shirt buttoned to the top, family and friends chuckling with him at the image.
Pinon loved cars and Santana, he said, and Castro said he knew before Pinon did who Pinon would choose for his wife. They were young men at the time and were headed out for a night on "the strip," Story and King roads in San Jose, when Pinon wanted to stop and see his girlfriend, Melina.
It was to be a quick stop, with no word mentioned of where the men were headed. But as time passed Pinon handed over to Castro the keys to his beloved car and told Castro to go on without him, Pinon wanted to stay behind with Melina.
"If he was willing to give me the keys to his '54 I knew he was going to marry this woman," Castro said.
Pinon was around Castro and his three brothers so much that the family considered Pinon the fifth child.
The Navarro family who lives across the street from Pinon's grandparents—with whom Pinon stayed during the week because it was closer to Lehigh than his home in Newman, and it allowed him to help care for the 96- and 98-year-old couple—said that Pinon was over at their house a lot, often to watch San Francisco 49ers games.
"He was a great person, it's a shame he had to go that way," said Carlos Navarro.
Armando Navarro added: "He lived for his family and his friends."
The Navarros all said that Pinon talked about Allman for "years and years" and how Allman "played the black card"—Allman was the only black employee in the Teamsters Union at Lehigh.
Pinon, who had been a shop steward, told them over the years that often Pinon had to do Allman's work as well as his own because Allman was "lazy," the brothers said.
Allman died by a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head Oct. 6, after a 24-hour manhunt following the shootings at Lehigh and an attempted carjacking and another shooting in the Hewlett-Packard parking lot.
Donations to help Melina Pinon can be made to Manuel Pinon's Memorial Fund at Bank of the West with the account number 025648840. Donations can also be made in person at any Bank of the West branch or mailed to the Newman branch located at 945 Fresno St., Newman, California, 95360-1301.