Jennie U. Guerrero was born on April 7, 1921, in Modesto, California. She was one of eight children. In those days, Modesto was primarily a farming community that was part of the large Ranchos very typical of California. Their family home was a guesthouse located on the Rancho where Jennie, her parents, and siblings lived. Jennie's father, Rafael Sr., was a worker on the Rancho — responsible for caring for fields of peach trees, melons, and grapes — while Jennie's mother, Francisca, remained at home caring for the children.
Their time spent in California was good. Jennie and her siblings attended local public schools. Although the family was large, they had the necessities to live comfortably. However, their way of life would soon change drastically.
During the early Depression years, many first generation Mexican families were "pressured" to return to Mexico (Mexican Repatriation). Jobs were scarce, and the number of unemployed workers grew. Jennie, her parents, siblings, a maternal uncle, and his family prepared to move to Mexico. In 1931, they packed up the essentials and buried many kitchen items in a large hole in the ground, leaving behind a household of furniture. The trip was made in two cars, and it took several days to reach their destination.
The trip was difficult, with many children to keep safe and entertained. Some of Jennie's younger siblings would ask her, "Are we in Mexico yet?"
Several days later, the families arrived in Leon, Mexico, where other family members had purchased land and made their lives. This is where they would set roots again. Life was harsh, as the Depression was affecting Mexico as well. The family was very poor, and many days were spent with very little to eat.
As a result, Jennie's oldest brother, Salvador, returned to California to work in various construction jobs and send money back to his parents and siblings. Nonetheless, times continued to be hard in Mexico.
Rafael Sr. worked as a policeman, and the eldest three sisters — Matilde, Agripina and Soledad — worked in various factory jobs. However, due to poverty and poor working conditions, the elder sisters would become ill and die prematurely. Through Salvador's continued monetary support of the family, Francisca was able to purchase a dairy store, and Jennie and her younger sister, Lourdes, were allowed to return to California in 1945 to work. In 1949, Jennie's parents and the rest of her siblings would also return to California. The only sister remaining would be Josefina, who married and made her home in Leon where she remains to this day.
Jennie's days as a single woman were spent with her sisters, Lourdes and Carmen. They spent time with the family, enjoyed going dancing, and worked. In 1949, Jennie would meet Frank Guerrero. Their courtship would be brief, and in July, they were married. In 1953, their first daughter, Dora, was born, and in 1958, their second daughter, Yolanda, was born. The family lived in Los Angeles, Frank worked, and Jennie was the primary caretaker of the family and home. Their family home was not far from Jennie's sister, Carmen, and her family.
Many happy events were shared between the two families, which allowed the closeness of the sisters, aunts, and cousins to bond forever. This extended also to Jennie's sister, Lourdes, and her family in Modesto. Many train trips on the Southern Pacific Railroad — destination Modesto — would be remembered by all as exciting and memorable.
The years passed, and in 1972, Frank passed away, and Jennie was left raising two young daughters. Jennie was hired as a cafeteria worker in the LAUSD, where she enjoyed 26 happy years before retiring.
Some of her pleasures in life were cooking, gardening — especially tending to her roses, socializing with friends, watching "I Love Lucy," and trips to Las Vegas. Jennie would be lucky on those slot machines. But her biggest passion and pleasure was spending time, cooking for, and sharing laughter with her daughters and grandchildren: Oscar Jr., Ian, Angel, Jessica, and Vincent.
In 1994, Jennie moved to the Santa Clarita Valley where her daughters and family had settled. She lived alone, but her immediate family was always around. Although Jennie was a "homebody," she took two family trips to Hawaii and Cancun with her daughters and their families. Jennie attended Mass regularly with Dora and son-in-law, John. Her devotion to St. Anthony was immense, and she would pray daily for all the family.
In 2005, her first great-grandson, Jullian, was born—a joy to all the family. However, in 2010, her grandson Vincent would pass away, which affected the family forever.
Jennie was diagnosed with cancer in 2014. She elected to have a surgical procedure to remove the cancer at the age of 93. She did very well after the surgery, recovering totally, and returned to her normal routines. In January 2015, she began to experience some weakness and fatigue due to anemia. Her daily routines, gardening, and caring for her dog, all grew more difficult for her.
In early February, based on several tests, it became apparent that her cancer had returned. Jennie was placed on Hospice in her home. On March 1st, she would have her last family visitors. She passed away peacefully in her sleep.
Jennie is preceded in death by her parents Rafael Sr. and Francisca, her sibling — Matilde, Agripina, Soledad, Salvador, Lourdes, Carmen, and Rafael Jr. — and her grandson Vincent. She is survived by her daughters, Dora and Yolanda, sister Josefina, grandchildren Oscar Jr., Ian, Angel, and Jessica, great grandson Jullian, many nieces and nephews, and great nieces and nephews who will miss her presence and love forever. She will be remembered as Mother, Sister, Grandmother, Nana, Auntie (Tia), friend, and family Matriarch to all.
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