By Jim Shilander
Floyd Hugo “Ditty” Nieblas, a leader of one of San Juan Capistrano’s historical Juaneño families, former business manager at Mission San Juan Capistrano and a fount of the city’s and mission’s history, died November 3 after a long illness. He was 86.
Nieblas was raised in Las Rosas, where his mother ran a restaurant. He attended the Mission School and grew to passionately love and tell the history of both his family and of the growth and history of the Capistrano Valley.
Son Jerry Nieblas, of the Capistrano Historical Alliance, said his father’s love of history, and their discussions about it, inspired him to become a champion of the city’s heritage and past.
“(He was) the patriarch of our family and our history. He was our history book,” Jerry Nieblas said. “We used to have these talks. In his days, it was easier to embrace our history because there were so many historical families left here in the valley. I’m still going to carry on my dad’s teachings and his way.”
Jerry Nieblas said his father, who largely eschewed local and tribal politics, wasn’t that way with his family—he never stopped trying to teach the family’s history and the history of the area. “My dad kept our history alive in our grandchildren. It’s interesting to see a new generation of our family coming up. He was very proud of his grandchildren—probably more in these last few years.”
A funeral mass was held Friday at 10 a.m. in Serra Chapel with a traditional Capistrano funeral procession to the graveside. A rosary was said on his behalf Thursday at Serra Chapel.
Nieblas is survived by his wife, Mariruth; five children, 12 grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild; as well as a brother and half-sister.