Mary Mendez, beloved and devoted wife, mother, grandma, sister, aunt and friend passed away at the age of 96 on December 27 surrounded by many of her loved ones at Hacienda Health Care Center. Born in Azusa, Calif., Mary came to Hanford with her family as a young child. She dedicated her life to taking care of and loving her family, often making sacrifices so that her children and grandchildren would be better off. When her mother passed away prematurely, Mary was called upon by her father to help raise her younger brothers and sister. After marrying her husband, Jess, she raised five children of her own while helping to raise her husband's youngest brother after her mother-in-law passed away unexpectedly. In her later years, Mary helped to raise several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
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Mary was a founding member of the Kings County Council of Mexican American Women, where she dedicated many hours to planning events that raised scholarship funds for local youth to attend college. She and her husband were active parishioners at St. Brigid's and later Immaculate Heart of Mary Church. Mary was happiest when she was visiting her favorite casinos in Lake Tahoe and Laughlin with her husband, shopping with her daughters, caring for her many beautiful birds, working in the garden or enjoying the company of her family. She was an extraordinary cook whose delicious food was enjoyed by all who visited her home.
She is survived by her five children, Anne Marie of Hanford; Loretta (John) Ponce and Gilbert (Roark Clayton) of San Jose; Patricia (Ron) Johnstone of Atascadero; and Robert (Yolanda) of Hanford; her sister, Rose Maciel of Hanford; and a special sister-in-law, Carmen Mendez of Santa Clara; 10 grandchildren (Joseph, Connie, April, Tim, Ron, Jessica, Michael, Josiah, Estevan and William) and 11 great-grandchildren. Mary was preceded in death by her husband of 67 years, Jess, who passed away on October 25, 2009; parents, Isaac and Juanita Hernandez; and brothers, Charlie, Louie, Bobby and David.
A rosary and mass celebrating her life will be held at St. Brigid's Catholic Church on January 3 at 11 a.m. followed by a graveside service at Calvary Cemetery in Hanford.
The family extends its heart-felt gratitude to the nursing staff and care-givers at Hacienda for their dedicated and loving care of our mother for the past five years. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made in her memory to the Kings County Council of Mexican American Women (P.O. Box 895 Hanford, CA 93230) to support local Hispanic women and men who wish to pursue a higher education.
Published in The Hanford Sentinel on Dec. 31, 2010