Maria Luisa “ Mary Lou” Valadez Ybarra, 75-years-old, peacefully passed on Saturday, January 7, 2017, surrounded by friends and family, in Fresno, CA.
Mary Lou was the youngest of twin girls born on August 22, 1941 in Corcoran (Hanford), CA to parents Antonio Ybarra and Luisa Valadez, and grandparents Francisco and Maria Guillen Ybarra.
Due to the unusual circumstances of the Ybarra Twins birth – father serving overseas in WWII, and mother dying during childbirth, but prior to giving birth to the twins, it was Grandmother & Grandfather Ybarra who took them home to Corcoran. Soon, the birth of the Ybarra Twins “the Miracle Babies” spread fast! and the Little Red Barn Dairy Company contacted the family, proposing the Twins as the new face of their dairy campaign, in exchange for free milk! Needless to say, they were soon happy and full, celebrity babies!
Mary Lou continued her youth in Corcoran, attending school, and working as a farm laborer along with other family members during this time. However, early in life, she found a passion for community activism, and the growing civil rights movements of the time. Mom often spoke of having to complete her homework with candle light or an oil lamp, since school work for girls at this time was not a priority, and came after all other chores. In her adult years Mary Lou proudly participated with the Ceasar Chavez Movement, Civil Rights Awareness, and Women’s Rights – long into her senior years.
After graduating from Cosmetology School, Mary Lou soon married, began a family, and a career in Fresno, CA. Where she raised her step-children, children, and grandchildren, owned and operated several beauty shops, and a full-service spa, dedicated 100 of volunteer hours to St. Helen’s Catholic School, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, MECHA fundraisers, CSUF Native American Studies events, CSUF Tewaquachi Pow Wow, CSUF Repatriation Ceremony, and became a life-long member, representative and Officer of the St. John’s Cathedral Guadalapano Society, and a recognized member of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona, as well as a member of the Fresno Yaqui Association.
With a real zest for life, Mary Lou loved to dance, entertain friends, coordinate trips to Casino’s throughout California and Nevada, and when she wasn’t on the go, her favorite pastime was watching golf (she loved her Tiger Woods), 49’er football, and San Francisco Giants baseball! But of course, Sunday games wouldn’t be the same without cooking her famous homemade tortillas, Pozole, Menudo and my favorite, Indian Bread.
Mary Lou, MOM and GrandmaLou dedicated her life to her family, a woman of faith and the heart of her family. Throughout her life she maintained a fiercely independent personality to match her fiery red hair, and her entertaining sense of humor, with constant laughter and joking around. Her strong will to live, unwavering faith in God, the love and prayers of family, friends and many supporters carried her through the last few months of life. The family is deeply grateful for the outpouring of love, prayers, and support in many heart-felt forms from too many people to name individually – MOM will never be forgotten.
Her surviving family members are numerous, but mainly include her life partner of 30 years Raul Ponce; eight children, Frances, Randy, Sal, Eliodoro, Gino, and Rita Mendoza, Ramona Duarte and Luis Lopez Sr.; Grandmother, Great, and Great-Great to 40 plus children; Brothers, Tony Ybarra and Frank Ybarra; Sisters, surviving twin, Maria Antonia Valadez Ybarra, Sue Ybarra, Georgia Campos, Connie Martinez, Angie Pena, Rachel Pratti and proceeded by Judy Palmerin of Corcoran, CA; and unfortunately too many beloved cousins, nieces, nephews, and God-children to list or even count.
Visitation and Rosary were held in Fresno. Mass was held Thursday, Jan. 19 at 10:30 am, in St. John’s Cathedral, Fresno. Interment will be held immediately following the mass, at St. Peter’s Cemetery in Fresno.
A Celebration of Life Reception will be held immediately following burial at The Wedgewood Banquet Hall, 4584 W Jacquelyn Ave, Fresno.
For more information, please call 559-268-3104.
Memorial donations can be made to Attn: Memorial Services – 3350 E. Nevada Ave, Fresno, CA 93702.