Farmersville – Maria Consuelo Garcia was born in Santa Rosa, Texas on January 1, 1946. She passed away peacefully on February 26, 2020 at the age of 74 following a long illness with Alzheimer’s.
Maria was the third child of parents Leovaldo and Rosario Martinez Rivas, her early years were spent in el Soliseño, Tamaulipas where she lived with her parents and grandmother. During her youth Maria, and her family traveled around the United States harvesting various crops, one of these places was in the Central Valley near Lamont CA, where she met the love of her life Luis Garcia. They were married on July 10, 1964 and were married for 43 years. In their time together, they were organizers with the United Farm Workers Union, moving all the way to Denver Colorado to start the Boycott on lettuce and help organize the workers. They were Farm Laborers, Evangelical Pastors, but to Her, her biggest and proudest accomplishment were her children, Jose Garcia (Stephanie) Francisco Garcia, Margie Reed (Michael), Adrian Garcia (Nancy), Manuel Garcia (Catalina), Hester Morales, Dolores Garcia, Lidia Garcia, and Luis Garcia. Maria was also blessed with twenty grandchildren and thirteen great-grandchildren.
She is survived by her siblings; Israel Rivas, Ruben Rivas, Sofia Tellez (Eliu), Rosa Garcia (Juan), Guadalupe Rivas (Magdalena). Preceded in death by her husband Luis Garcia (2007), Her mother, Rosario Martinez Rivas (2007) her father Leovaldo Rivas (1993), and her brother Adolfo Rivas (2002).
You just heard all the facts of Maria Consuelo Garcia, also known as “Chelo” to many but let me tell you a little bit about the woman who impacted so many lives. Being the oldest daughter has its own responsibilities. At the age of around 14 she took some of her siblings on a joy ride to the local post office in Overton Nevada and crashed into the building. Who knows maybe she thought it was a drive thru. She married a young man by the name of Luis Garcia who she knew of, since they were from the same little ranch, el Soliseño, Tamalipas. In the early 60’s as with most of her generation, many of you are here today, were part of the civil rights movement, “the united farm workers” “La Huelga” with Cesar Chavez. They say behind every good man there is a good woman. In this case there was a great woman. A woman who sacrificed a lot for her family, coworkers and for the cause, “viva la causa” “long live our cause”. You will see pictures of her at different boycotts. The United Farm Workers sent her and my dad to organize a boycott in Denver Colorado where she was pregnant with my younger brother Manuel and later in 1973 he would be born there. He’s the only one out of the nine of us that was born outside of California and we’ve never let him forget that. Most of you know that working in the fields is not an easy job, and at the time, the working conditions were not hospitable to anyone especially woman who needed to use the restroom and there was nowhere to go. From what my aunts and uncles and my mom’s cousins have told us, my mom was a hard worker. They said she would out work most men. We of course later came to verify this with our own eyes. For those of you that have never experience a day out in the fields, let me tell you what a typical day was for my mom. She would get up around 2:30am and start making breakfast and lunch burritos with homemade flour tortillas for the whole family and a lot of times for other people too. She would then make sure that we were up and ready to go and believe me some of us were not easy to get up. Sometimes the distance we traveled to get to the right field was over an hour away. After a couple of hours of work we would sit under the shade of a grape vine or an orange tree and she would bring out the hot breakfast burritos and start passing them out. Let me tell you, those were the best! We got a little break but she was busy making
sure we were fed and then made sure everything was put back as we got ready to go back to work. A few hours later as the sun rose high in the sky she would break out another bundle of joy that had the lunch burritos that somehow were still warm from the magical wrapping she had wrapped them in. When the work day finally came to an end, she made sure we were all accounted for and most of us would fall asleep as we made the long journey home. When we got home she made sure we unloaded everything from the van and then made sure we all got into the shower. After she showered and put a load of laundry on, she would start making dinner. After dinner, she would clean everything up and make sure the laundry was done. Sometimes it wasn’t until 10pm that she would go to sleep to repeat the whole thing again the next day.
One of the things that family kept repeating all this week as they came over was that they remember that she would always feed you if you came over to the house. It did not matter what time it was, she would start cooking and make you something to eat. She was a great cook. When we went to wrestling tournaments she would get up early and make homemade tortillas and fill them with some good stuff. She would not only enough for us but she would make enough for us to share with others. To us, it was just a normal part of life. To a lot of our teammates it was the best thing ever because some of them had nothing to eat and she knew this.
In early 1973 she made the greatest decision of her life she accepted Jesus Christ as her personal savior. This decision has impacted our lives to this very day. She raised nine children with the love and knowledge of God. If you showed up to the house around 9am you would find her sitting at the head of the table with her bible open as she studied and prayed. She would always tell us, “I am praying for you and your family”. Over the years people who have come to know our family are amazed at how we treat each other and how close we are. This is all due to not only the love she had for us but also the biblical principles she instilled in each one of us. You know some of us were not the best behaved kids when we were little and one of the principles she had no problem using was Proverbs 13:24 “ Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” Let me tell you that as we were getting whipped with whatever mom could get ahold of, she would say “it’s because I Love you”. Well we definitely didn’t feel loved at the moment we only felt the sting of whatever she was swinging. I am thankful now for the love she showed us back then, because some people would say we turned out ok. The one thing she always wanted was that her children live close by. We all live within 10 miles of each other. Let me finish with this. Her greatest accomplishment wasn’t having 9 children but that all 9 of her children have accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and many of her grandchildren too. This is the Legacy that she leaves behind, a legacy that has transcended into different generations.
A Graveside Service will be held for Maria on Tuesday, March 3rd at 10:00 A.M. at the Woodville Public Cemetery, 17203 Ave. 168, Woodville, Ca. 93257. Directly following will be a Celebration of Maria's Life at the First Church of God, 833 N. Blackstone St. in Tulare at 12:00 P.M.
To plant a tree in memory of Maria Garcia, please visit our tribute store.