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Johanna Castro


1924 - 2014 Obituary Condolences
Johanna Castro Obituary
JOHANNA CASTRO May 24, 1924 - June 20, 2014 Johanna Maria Felber Castro, a beloved mother, teacher, adventurer and friend, passed away on June 20, 2014 at her daughter's home in Oakland, California in the presence of family. Johanna was born and raised on a small dairy farm in the tiny hamlet of Steigberg, Germany, on May 24th, 1924. She came into the world a few minutes after her twin brother Joseph Felber. She spent much of her youth as a goose girl and cowherd and was educated by the sisters at Schoenenberg. She yearned to experience a wider world. After completing her training as a teacher she immigrated to the United States in 1947 as a war bride sponsored by the Koschwanetz family in Pasadena where she initially supported herself working as a maid and Nanny. Johanna Felber met Charles Castro while she was a student at San Jose State University. They married in 1952 and she became a full time homemaker and mother of seven. They moved to Riverside, California in 1960 when he joined the faculty at UCR. Johanna called Riverside home for 52 years. In order to help support her seven children, Johanna went back to work in the 1970's as a teacher at the Grindstaff Development Center in Riverside County. While there she strove to create outdoor educational experiences for severely disabled children. A personal and career highlight was a camping trip she took her students on in the San Bernardino Mountains. Always her daughters' role model, Johanna was a woman with a joie de vivre and boundless energy who did whatever was required to keep her family together and healthy-including grinding wheat to bake organic bread before it was a staple in grocery stores. Despite these demands she carved out the time to indulge in her passionexploring and hiking in the wilderness. She took refuge in climbing every peak in the Box Springs Mountains and was known to run to the top of Big Sugarloaf without stopping. Traveling on a shoe string, she hiked the Sierra Nevada, the wilds of Alaska, the Inca trail and the highlands of Guatemala. She celebrated her retirement after age 70 with a trek in the Himalayas. Johanna was also a woman of faith, who felt closest to God when walking upon a mountain trail, and activist for progressive causes. She never forgot what it was like to grow up in Nazi Germany and was very aware of how a nation and it's citizenry can fall under the spell of fascism. She took her children to anti-war rallies and "Peace Fairs" and was arrested for participating in an anti-Vietnam war sit-in. She was a strong supporter of the Catholic Worker movement and believed in Liberation Theology. Johanna remained deeply interested in issues related to democracy and social justice throughout her life. Johanna was above all else a devoted mother, grandmother and friend. In addition to raising her own children she provided support and guidance to many of their friends who will never forget the caravans to Baja California that she organized. She devoted much of her time in retirement helping to care for and nurture her twelve grandchildren. Johanna will be deeply missed by her three daughters, Lony Castro, Ann Crowell (Rob), Claire Castro-Karney (William) and four sons, Albert Castro (Kay), Tom Castro (Michelle), Hans Castro (Anita) and Mark Castro. She also leaves behind her beloved grandchildren Jason, Jeffrey and Daniel Avina, Caitlin and Madeline Castro, Justin and Chris Crowell, Mitchell and Trevor Castro, Alex and Abbey Castro and Bruno and Johanna Karney, in addition to numerous nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents Johann and Maria Felber, her brothers Johann and Joseph Felber, her sister Lony Felber Naher and her dear son-in-law Robert Avina. A memorial service honoring her life will be held at 12:30 PM, Saturday, July 1st at the Chapel of the Chimes, Oakland, California. Her family requests that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the LA Catholic Worker, or "Democracy Now!"


Published in Press-Enterprise on June 29, 2014
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