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Jovita Valentina Sanchez: A lifetime of love, faith and family bonds

Jovita Valentina Sanchez was a remarkable woman who graced this world for 101 years. She had a profound impact on the lives of those who loved her and was a pillar of strength for her family and friends.

She was born on Valentine's Day, Feb. 14, 1923, in Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico, and peacefully passed on March 29, 2024. She came to the United States at age 5, first to Famoso and then to McFarland, where she was raised. At 14, she married Ray R. Sanchez and moved to Wasco. She was married to Ray for 63 years and had nine children together, whom they raised in town. Ray passed in 2001.

Her home was a sanctuary of warmth and laughter, where stories were shared and memories were made. She approached motherhood with a boundless love, nurturing her children with tenderness and guiding them with wisdom.

Jovita leaves behind a legacy of family distributed across multiple generations, with well over 100 grandchildren.

Isaac Sanchez is her youngest son. "She was the best mother. She taught me how to be patient, forgiving and trusting in God. Her character was one where she liked to laugh and always tried to help people. She was a loving person. She especially showed us as siblings to love and take care of each other."

He said she was great with kids. "She loved the little ones, and they loved her. She was like a magnet to them. They were attracted to her love. One word to describe her would be love."

Jovita worked seasonally in the fields with the family as a migrant farmworker, picking cotton, grapes, potatoes and peaches. Daughter Rachel Martinez said, "She took us with her. We lived in a tent."

Though they lived humble lives, she said, "I didn't feel bad. We were happy with the way we lived. She taught me to appreciate what we had. I'll miss most about her is her smile, her laughter and always wanting to be hugged."

Linda Sanchez Muñiz added that her mother was full of wisdom, "She said once to me, if you don't work, you don't eat. If you want something, you have to work for it."

"Another thing that stuck out to me about my mom was cleanliness. She taught us even though we were poor, we didn't have to live dirty. I also loved her cooking. She showed me how to make tortillas, frijoles, sopa, whatever we had, she would teach us to cook. To me, she prepared us for life the best she could."

Linda said Jovita cared deeply for her many grandchildren. "She loved them all the same. She was very hands-on and affectionate and liked to hug, kiss and pray on them."

Another daughter, Pamela Venegas, said, "My mom was always busy cooking and cleaning, and she used to work housekeeping to make extra money. She also made sure we went to church and sent us to St. John's Catholic School for eight years."

"As a mother, she was very affectionate, and she did the best with what she knew, instilling in us a good work ethic and trust in God. Three of us are pastors, and she influenced that. My mother was a prayer warrior.

"I think she would like us to remember her for the love she gave us, the prayer she prayed for us and the joy she brought to our family."

Her son Michael Sanchez shared that Jovita was a woman of faith. "She was very religious and devoted to Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary and Padre Pio. She would make hundreds of rosaries to send to New York, which would then be sent all over the world.

"I always followed her footsteps, attending church every Sunday and thanking the good Lord for what I have and what he's done for me. She was not a strict mother but understanding helping me with whatever she could and supporting me."

Mathew Grijalba, her great-great grandson, said, "No matter who was around her, she had a very loving presence. She had a place in her heart for you. Even in her later stages in life, she was a very outgoing person."

Daughter Dolores Gutierrez cared for Jovita for 25 years and said it was a rewarding experience. "She loved me, and I could love her the same."

Some of Jovita's favorite things to do included going to the beach and watching sports on TV. "She loved to eat, and it was always a special treat to go out and eat Chinese food."

When she was younger, she enjoyed sewing and, as she grew older, enjoyed visiting her children. She loved to read religious literature.

"She was very kind and always made sure that everybody had something to eat. As a wife, she did her household duties, cared for my dad, planned our vacations and was very accommodating."

"We would go to Pismo Coast Village and stay for a month. The whole family would go. There was a pool, a rec hall and an arcade. We had a great time. She would get in the pool with us and drink coffee around the campfire."

As her caretaker for all those years she said, "I feel lucky that I was the one that was blessed to have been able to have watched her."

 

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