Strong and vivacious, unwavering loyalty to family, feisty, and unapologetically herself. This is what made up the beautiful human being who was Teresa Mendoza Chavez. Our family had the privilege of calling her sister, mother, tia, grandma (gma), and great grandma. She was the self-described unconventional mother and grandmother who kept us on our toes. As a woman who loved to party, any family event would turn in to an opportunity for her to dance and laugh with her family. Any situation she liked to turn in to a good time. Even watching movies with her, no matter what kind, were always fun. Her reactions to what was going on in the movie – “Aaaah!” “oh no!” “Ayye!” - always elicited a smile and a laugh from those around her.
Teresa was born in Santa Barbara, CA on October 28, 1940, to Guadalupe and Jose Mendoza. She was the fourth youngest of 15 children, but with her fiery spirit you would think she was the oldest. Her mother worked hard at home to take care of Teresa and her siblings, as her father spent his days working in the strawberry fields in Santa Barbara County. Being tough and a hard worker is what she saw as the cornerstone of being a Mendoza. Like her mother, Teresa was also a woman of faith, who enjoyed going to mass on Sundays. She would say that she was not the perfect Catholic, but that she tried her best.
In her younger years, Teresa was a hardworking, single mom, raising four children. She would hold multiple jobs if necessary to provide for her family, which later included taking care of her mother. Later in life, Teresa was still a hardworking woman, who took care of those who could no longer care for themselves. She worked tirelessly as a caregiver to the elderly, even as she became elderly herself. She would also happily help her children by watching her grandchildren and the children of her nieces and nephews. She would famously say “I watch kids, not toys.”
On February 23, 2021, Teresa was taken from us too soon from the unforgiving illness that is Covid-19. During her final goodbyes, Teresa made sure that we knew she loved her kids and that we always made her happy. Although she said she was going to miss us, she will be reunited with her daughter, Andrea Perez, and her son, Mark Perez who preceded her in death. We, her children and grandchildren, will continue to honor her in death as we did in her life by always striving to making her “just too proud.” Mom/grandma, we will never forget you and will love you always.
Teresa Mendoza Chavez proceeded her youngest daughter Andrea Perez, and youngest son Marc Perez (Anna Perez) in death. She is survived by her siblings Mary Solis, Ruben Mendoza, Josie Mendoza, Andrea Mendoza, Vickie Hansen and her eldest daughter Cindy Furlong (David Furlong), Eldest son Kenneth Rivas (Silvia Rivas), 11 grandchildren, and 16 great-grandchildren.
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