When Humberto S. Lopez was 12, his father died unexpectedly, closing the door on the world that had been his. Gone was his comfortable life as the son of a successful rancher in Ciudad Obregon, Sonora, Mexico. Gone were the days when his mother could care for her six children without worrying about how she would feed them.

The Lopez family moved to Nogales, Arizona to live with their maternal grandmother. Lopez, the oldest of the children, worked hard as a young boy to feed the family. He washed dishes, dug ditches, worked the fields, and bagged groceries, soon realizing that without an education his future and prospects of a better life would have been very bleak.

Losing his father at such an early age, Lopez learned to cope with, and eventually create, a new reality. “I probably would not have been so driven to exceed if I had not had a good lifestyle and then gone to poverty,” he reflects. There is a dicho, a Spanish proverb or truism, which says, “Hay que aprender a perder antes de saber jugar.” Translated to English it means, “One must learn how to lose before learning how to play.” In effect, that is what happened to Lopez.

He initially enrolled in Cochise College in Douglas, Arizona, where he received an associate’s degree in 1967. He then earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Arizona in 1969.

Why did he choose accounting? “It was the first course I took, and I liked it,” he said.

Armed with a college degree, Lopez took two more important steps toward the life he wanted. First, he married Czarina Montano of Nogales, Sonora, a young woman he had met during his days as a student at the university. Second, he decided to begin his career in Los Angeles, not Arizona.

His first job as an accountant was in the audit department of Deloitte Haskins and Sells, where he developed an expertise in the real estate field. It was during this time that Lopez launched his own investment company, borrowing $1,000 for a real estate purchase. He then reinvested the $3,000 profit from the first piece of property, parlaying that into a $5,000 profit.

The investment chain had begun.

In 1975, Lopez teamed with Glenn Toyoshima to form HSL Properties. Within four years, the company had investments in California, Arizona, Colorado, Texas, New Mexico, and Georgia. By 1980, with HSL Properties thriving, Humberto and Czarina decided it was time to move the family from Los Angeles to a smaller community. They chose Tucson, Arizona.

“Our only daughter at the time was 10 years old and we wanted an environment that lent itself to knowing the parents of the friends our daughter would grow up with, and Tucson was the perfect place,” he said.

In the meantime, HSL Properties continued to prosper. Today, the company is the largest apartment owner in Southern Arizona and the owner of numerous Tucson hotels.

In addition to growing his business, Lopez has given back to the community. He has served on the boards of directors for a number of nonprofits and for-profit public and private companies. He has been board chairman for Paragon Vision, Tucson Savings and Loan, United Way of Southern Arizona, 88 Crime, Val Equity, YMCA of Greater Tucson, the Catholic Diocese of Tucson Finance Committee, the University of Arizona Foundation, and the Sarver Heart Center. He has served on the boards of directors of CapitalBancorp, Pinnacle West Capital Corporation, and Arizona Public Service. He is currently a member of the board of Santa Barbara Auto Group. Recently the University of Arizona Eller College of Management named its newest school The H.S. Lopez Business School of Analytics. His awards and recognitions have been many including Man of the Year in the City of Tucson, University of Arizona Hispanic Man of the year, Eller College of Management Alumni of the Year, and, along with his wife, Czarina, City of Hope Couple of the Year.

Czarina also quickly became instrumental in a number of Tucson causes. Her past involvements have included Tucson/Mexico Sister Cities, Tucson Museum of Art League, Open Inn, Angel Charity for Children, La Frontera Center, Steele Memorial Children’s Research Center, Las Familias, Friends of the Cancer Center, Parseghian Medical Research Foundation, Salpointe and St. Cyril’s Foundation, and the Center for Integrated Medicine. She has also served on the boards of San Miguel High School, Tu Nidito, Catholic Community Services, and the Catholic Community Services Foundation.

This profile, however, does not represent the sum of Lopez. Rising from a life-changing experience as an adolescent, he is more than a business success story and family man. One of his many other descriptors is that of philanthropist. Lopez believes that philanthropy also includes giving of one’s time, energy, and expertise, as evidenced by his founding The H.S. Lopez Family Foundation.

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