Clara Mesquita Melendy passed away in Salinas, California on Friday, January 24th, 2020 at the age of 93 years old. She was surrounded by her loving family.
Clara was born in Gilroy, Ca on October 1, 1926 to Clara Fagundas Mesquita and Frank J. Mesquita. She was the youngest of four daughters (Geraldine (Geri) Oates, Frances (Fran) Gansberger, and Mildred (Milly) Hurst). Her brother Donald (Don) Mesquita was born a little more than year later.
She was born Clara Luella Mesquita, with her middle name honoring a great-aunt. However, when she was enrolled for school, her Mom found out the birth certificate stated Clara Lou Mesquita. So, the little girl everyone called Lue had to become Clara Lou. Many years later after her own children were in school, she told everyone to call her just Clara.
Clara grew up on Lover’s Lane in the north part of San Benito County and walked the ½ mile to Grammar school at Pacheco School. She also attended Hollister High School via a school bus. Many of her bus mates became close neighbors and relatives later in her life.
Clara was always an industrious woman determined to stand on her own and take care of her family. Before marriage, Clara started working for an insurance company as an independent woman. But after her Dad’s heart attack and inability to work for months, she used her salary for over a year to support her parents too.
Clara always wanted more than just a husband; she wanted a partner in life. She found her partner in Walter Thomas Melendy and the two married on May 25, 1952. They continued to live their life as partners until Walter passed in 1987. Clara and Walter had two children Cynthia Clare Melendy (now Cynthia Anne Melendy) and Thomas Daniel Melendy (Tom).
From the time the children were old enough until high school graduation both Cynthia and Tom were active 4-H members. Clara actively supported this by chaperoning events; serving as a proctor on demonstration day; and performing other helper activities.
Clara was also a very active member of the San Benito Cattlewomen’s Association, Farm Bureau, and the Home Department (the women’s branch of the Farm Bureau). Through these organizations, Clara helped teach classes, and host potlucks, fundraisers and Pedro parties for the benefit of the community.
Clara and Walter attended the Melendy memorial picnic every memorial weekend. Clara thought this was such a great idea. She worked with her siblings to organize a Mesquita family picnic every Mother’s Day weekend. She gathered together all her siblings and their extended families. Before Walter’s mother died, Walter’s brother John Melendy and his family began coming too. Everyone brought a dish to share and the crown jewel of the event was the homemade ice cream. Clara would make the ice cream base and bring a hand crank ice cream maker. And then throughout the event, everyone would take turns turning the crank.
Clara and Walter originally lived at Jungle Inn just off Highway 25. Shortly afterward, they moved to the Henry Melendy homestead. After several years of marriage, Walter and Clara bought the Henry Melendy homestead ranch. They farmed as the primary source of income for their family. Over the years, they grew/raised many different things on the ranch to cover their needs.
Clara always opened her home to anyone needing a place to stay. Many of her nieces and nephews spent their summers at the ranch.
In the late 1960’s, Clara started to work part-time at JC Penney’s. Even after she started full-time work elsewhere, she always thought fondly of the store and bought items preferentially from that store over other department stores.
In 1971, Clara and Walter both took full time jobs in Hollister to help their kids go to college. They commuted together in spite of the time differences in their workdays. Clara worked at Teledyne. Originally, she worked at the Airport location and then later she moved with the company to the new building on Union road. She always told stories about bringing in vegetables, fresh from their garden, to work and how all the gentlemen would trip over themselves to help her bring them in. Whomever helped always got first pick of the vegetables.
Clara retired from Teledyne in 1993. This gave her an opportunity to focus more on her family and volunteerism activities. In 1995, Clara helped Cynthia through a lengthy recovery from surgery. Clara was so knowledgeable that her surgeon thought Cynthia had a private nurse.
Clara volunteered at the DA office’s Victim Witness Assistance Center from 1997 until 2007. She primarily helped with the filing, but she also enjoyed being able to help the center’s clients by giving guidance through the often confusing legal system.
In 2013, Clara moved from the Ranch to a senior living facility in Salinas. She made many friends while living there and enjoyed the increase in social options available due to being in such close proximity with others.
When Tom married Patricia (Pat), Clara gained her first two grandchildren Amy and Brian. In the end, Clara had 4 Grandchildren (Amy, Brian, Anastacia, and Brandon). From there she ended up with 5 Great Grandchildren (Kirsten, Ty, Jessie, Miley, and Liam). Clara was able to meet her first Great-Great Grandchild (Emelyn) on December 26, 2019. She was awed about being able to have all five generations of her family together.
Clara always had strong motherly instincts. She always loved children and reveled in all the time she was able to spend with them. She valued having relationships full of great memories with all of her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, neighbors, friends, etc.
She was proceeded in death by her parents Clara and Frank Mesquita; siblings Geraldine Oates, Frances Gansberger, Mildred Hurst and Donald Mesquita; their spouses; husband Walter Melendy; and granddaughter Amy LaMar.
She is survived by her children Cynthia and Thomas Melendy; her daughter-in-law Patricia Melendy; grandchildren, Brian LaMar, Anastacia Osborn and Brandon Melendy; great grandchildren; a great-great grandchild; and numerous nieces, nephews, extended family and dear friends.
The family requests memorial contributions to be made to Clara’s favorite charities: The Salvation Army, The Cancer Centers of America or The Special Olympics
A Memorial Service will be held on Sunday, March 15th at 1:30 p.m. at Grunnagle-Ament-Nelson Funeral Home. A reception will follow the services, at the 7th Day Adventist Fellowship Hall, 2121 Sunnyslope Road, Hollister.