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July 15, 2024

Obituary: Jennie Cota Solorio (1930-2018)

January 27, 1930 – June 25, 2018
Born in Encinitas, CA
Resided in Hollister, CA

Jennie Solorio died in Hollister on June 25, 2018. She was surrounded by the family whom she loved, and who loved her.
Jennie was born in Encinitas, California to Ramona and Lucio Cota. Her parents worked in the fields, and shortly thereafter began traveling back and forth between Southern California and Hollister, where they eventually settled. Jennie’s earliest memories were of living with her family in the Cienega Valley, where she attended the Vineyard school. During this time she regularly explored the plants and animals surrounding her, developing a love of the natural world that remained with her throughout her life. Her family eventually settled permanently to Hollister, where her father made a living working in the Cienega vineyards.

Several years later, Jennie met the love of her life, Henry Solorio, while watching a movie at the Granada theater. They were married on June 4, 1950, and were the proud parents of five children. Jennie and Henry emphasized the importance of education for their children: she later recalled doing as much of the housework as she could herself to free her children up to do their school work and engage in sports and extracurricular activities. She also read regularly in child development literature, and provided her children frequently with art supplies and books to engage them. All five of Henry and Jennie’s children eventually graduated from college.

While raising her family, Jennie worked seasonally in the Hollister cannery. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, as her children reached high school and college age, Jennie began serious study of the Bible, and began attending an English-speaking base community group at Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Base communities were part of the liberation theology movement that had begun in Latin America in the 1960s before they spread to the United States, and which emphasized small-group Bible study as a tool for education and community development. Jennie was convinced that this movement needed to be extended to Spanish speakers in Hollister, and shortly thereafter helped form a small-group comunidade de base (base communities) at Sacred Heart. It was at her initiative, followed later by others’ efforts, that Sacred Heart later began offering worship in Spanish for the first time.

As a result of her work in base communities, Jennie regularly began visiting farm-worker camps around Hollister, helping to bring food, clothing, and the love of God. She also began reading deeply in theology. Jennie became a self-taught scholar who loved to discuss theology with Catholic priests and others in the community. Her favorite theologian was Richard Rohr, who, in his writing and preaching, emphasized love, inclusion, and the connection of all things in the kingdom of God.
Jennie continued her passion for social justice throughout her life. She was a founding member of Hollister in Black, a group modeled after the Women in Black in Chile, who protested the disappearance of family members by the Chilean dictatorship. During the duration of the second Iraq war, Jennie could be found every Friday with other members of Hollister in Black at the corner of 4th and San Benito protesting the war.

Jennie’s life was characterized by her faith in God, by her compassion for others, and by her love for her family. She is survived by her husband of 68 years, Henry, and five children: Conrad (Berta), Laura, Gil, Paula and Jenny (Todd). She was a loving grandmother of six: Enrique, Elias, Nancy, Ana (Max F.), Max Jr., and Jovita. Her parents and nine siblings preceded her in death.

Funeral services will be held on Sacred Heart Church at 11 am on Friday, July 6. In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions to Fishes and Loaves, a group in Sacred Heart-Saint Benedict Catholic Church that Jennie was involved with for many years, and which helps those facing hunger.

To send flowers or a remembrance gift to the family of Jennie Solorio, please visit the Black-Cooper-Sander Funeral Home Tribute Store.