Aida Olachea Carter
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Passed away Friday, July 27, 2012, at her home in Van Nuys after a nearly year-long battle with cancer. She was 73. She was surrounded with love all along in this journey, and it was no different in her final days. These last months were only a tiny fraction of a life of giving, sacrifice, compassion and devotion to her family. That life began on Sept. 27, 1938, in San Jose del Cabo - a town on the southern tip of Baja California, Mexico, not far from Cabo San Lucas. Eventually, the family would move north. And by the early 1960s, the family - including her younger bothers and sisters, had settled in Buena Park, Calif. Just down the street from their neighborhood was Disneyland, where she found an opportunity at the fledgling theme park. With a beaming smile and cheerful attitude, she found a job there as a "cast member," a tour guide - you know, the ones who wore those colorful uniforms, the high socks, the red vests and plaid skirts, and showed visitors and VIPs the park. Only one problem. She knew little English at the time. Still, she saw it as an opportunity, and embraced the chance. She memorized a script, which she would always say helped her learn English. Full of spirit and energy, she made it work, always cheerful. It was enough for her visitors and for Disney himself to have taken note. Later in the 1960s, she would move to the San Fernando Valley, and for a time worked at Universal Studios. She saw tragedy in those years with the loss of her beloved younger brother Mario in a car accident. But she also got married, and had a son, Ryan. She did everything she could to make sure her son had good teachers and good health. Together they moved to San Bernardino, where she put her son in tennis and violin lessons, private school
whatever it took to give her family a better life. And by the time she'd moved back to Los Angeles that included financing her son's college education. Through all those working years, music stayed close to her heart. She came from a musical family. Her mother sang opera, and named her children after operas - Aida, Carmen
.Her brother Daniel is an accomplished musician, and her siblings and their children all have musical ability and talent. She exercised it in her later years. She walked into a Mass one Sunday and heard they were looking for volunteers for the Spanish language choir at St. Charles Catholic Church in North Hollywood. She joined and relished it. She found happiness in this, and she found it a challenge that kept her wanting to improve. In the last five years, she took lessons to hone her mezzo-soprano voice, learning theories behind the music and absorbing the fundamentals like a sponge. She found a passion in these years and dug into it with gusto. She could sing all day, and many times she did. Often you could here her voice echoing outside of her kitchen as she practiced, in between making one of her several recipes - some yummy tamales or some great pork stew.
She's survived by her son Ryan; her siblings, including her brother Daniel; sisters Carmen, Patricia and Julie; several nieces and nephews; and my godmother, Violet Hutchens. Her mother Maria died earlier this year. Her closest friend, Edda Trejo, was like a sister. And they spoke always and until her mom's final days. And Lulu Walton - always a cherished close friend - was there to sing a song for her in her final days.
Burial services were private, under the direction of Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills, in Los Angeles. A gathering to remember her is in the works.
Published in San Bernardino Sun on Aug. 19, 2012