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Olga Arresa

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Olga Arresa Obituary
After a brief illness, Olga Arrese died on Monday, March 17, 2017 at Redlands Community Hospital. She was 63 years old.
Olga was born in Santiago, Chile on October 12, 1953 to Jose Luis Arrese and Vicenta Arreitunandia. Her parents were Basque immigrants, having fled from Franco's Spain. Her mother died when Olga was two, and her father eventually remarried. Olga had two siblings, Vicenta and Jose Antonio, and two half-siblings, Juan and Soledad. Although born in Chile and living in the United States for most of her life, she was fiercely proud of her Basque heritage, delighting in the national customs, costumes and cuisine. As a child, she experienced the 1960 Valdiva earthquake - the most powerful earthquake in recorded history.
She graduated Ignacio Carrera Pinto High School in 1971, and married Guillermo Valenzuela in 1974. They immigrated together to San Antonio, Texas in 1975. She resumed school, graduating from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 1983. After moving to the Inland Empire, she completed her Master's degree at Loma Linda University in 1986 and became a Marriage, Family, and Child Counselor. She lived in Redlands for the last 16 years of her life. Although eventually divorcing, Guillermo and Olga remained in constant loving contact and were a part of each other's lives until her death.
Olga was a perceptive, sensitive person who took her profession as a calling to help people through difficult times. She was sincere, loving, and fiercely loyal. She used humor to lighten up even the darkest moments. Fluent in both English and Spanish, she worked with people from a variety of backgrounds and means. Olga often helped people on her own time, at her own expense, when their circumstances were particularly dire. She also worked at West Valley Detention Center - one of the largest county jails in California - for several years. She was deeply moved by the difficulties inmates would tell her about life in "the big house," but she was also impressed with their sincerity and good humor in dealing with life.
Apart from her occupation, Olga had a lifelong love of the arts. She was a talented painter and creative writer, and continued creating art until the end of her life. She was particularly inspired by the poverty of her childhood, the abiding sadness she had from the early loss of her mother, the horror her father escaped in the Spanish Civil War, and the deep desire for normalcy that somehow allows us to overcome all grief. A characteristic story was titled "Casa de las Pulgas," or "House of the Fleas.. She particularly loved to share her creative passion with her children and grandchildren.
Olga is survived by her children, Joe Valenzuela of Pasadena, Carla Valenzuela of Riverside, and three grandchildren, Isabel Valenzuela and Luke Valenzuela of Pasadena, and Sadie Rapalino of Riverside, and her ex-husband, Guillermo Valenzuela of Redlands. Rosary (April 28 5-8PM), Funeral service (April 29th 10AM) 1000 Roosevelt Rd, Redlands, CA 92374.
Published in Press-Enterprise on Apr. 25, 2017
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