Editor’s note. The following is the obituary I wrote for my grandma, who died Sunday, October 14, 2007, two days after her 90th birthday.
Esther Rodriguez Schiveley passed away Sunday, October 14, 2007 at Windsor Gardens Rehabilitation Center of Salinas. She was surrounded by more than 50 family members and friends. Moments after minister Tom Salas read the 46th Psalm, she drew her last breath and went home to be with the Lord. She celebrated her 90th birthday just two days earlier.
She was born Oct.12, 1917 in El Monte, Calif., to Jesús and Ramona Rodriguez. Her father passed away when she was a small child.
Several years later, Esther moved with her family to the Central Valley, where they worked harvesting the cotton fields. On a typically warm day, a young man tilling the fields on a tractor spotted Esther, who was quite the looker as a young lady. Smart man that Esther’s future husband was, he hopped off his tractor and helped carry her cotton sack. Jay Schiveley married Esther Rodriguez in 1938, and spent the first years of their marriage in the Central Valley, where they had fallen in love.
Jay and Esther moved to Castroville with their first child, Alfred, in 1941. Two years later, they settled in the farming community of Boronda and raised their six children. Esther, her mother and sisters Mercy, Margarita and Consuelo were among the founding members of the First Apostolic Church of Salinas. The church began as a home Bible study work on Boronda Road and on Christmas Day, 1941, Esther was baptized in the name of Jesus. Jay was baptized earlier in the year, when he accompanied his pastor, Juan Amaya, to a church convention in Los Angeles. This began a commitment to the church for Esther, and to the God whom she served all her days. The First Apostolic Church of Salinas moved to 1104 Fontes Lane in 1949, where it remains.
Jay and Esther purchased their family home in 1953, across the street from the Boronda Adobe and the rolling fields of the Salinas Valley. Jay passed away in 1968. Esther leaned on her children for love and support at this time. She often said that it was after the death of her husband that she developed her love of reading and writing as well as learned how to pay the bills and live as an independent woman.
She transformed from a quiet homemaker to a 4-foot, 11-inch pistol of a woman who was an unashamed soldier of the Lord. Jesus was the best thing that had ever happened to her and she wanted everyone to know him.
Esther had a unique relationship with each of her children and loved them for who they were. She would love to see her grandchildren, and she would visit them frequently. Esther had a way of making her presence known when she entered a room. Her two standard greetings were “Praise the Lord!” and “I’m here!” And who could forget the right index finger? From relatives, to church parking attendants to presidents, no one could escape the pointing and lecturing.
Esther took great delight in her family. Her home was a gallery of photographs of her sons, daughters and grandchildren. Some of her happiest days were at Christmas and Thanksgiving, where she would enjoy watching her grandchildren race around the floor and unwrap their gifts. Even in a loud, talkative family like the Schiveleys, Esther made her presence known. Esther also enjoyed camping, and would always smile when she recalled trips to Arroyo Seco, Big Sur or to the Santa Cruz mountains. She never seemed too busy to have a cup of coffee — Taster’s Choice, of course — and visit with whomever would spend time with her.
Anyone who had the privilege of coming to her home in the morning knew the joy of having a plate of eggs, beans, bacon and a hot tortilla. She had a healthy appetite and especially loved breakfast.
Gardening was a passion of Esther’s and the front of her apartment would be filled with pots of red and pink geraniums, as well as an assortment of shrubs and trees.
Esther came from hardier stock than most people. She was still driving at the age of 89. Recently, when she left her home to enter residential care, she piloted her electric wheelchair to the car. Esther fought the good fight as a woman of God until the end. She will be missed by all who knew her, and can only hope to follow her example.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Jay Schiveley; her son Alfred Schiveley; brother, Eusebio Lopez; and sisters, Mercedes Perez, and Jessie Cabrera.
Survivors: Sons, James (Katy) Schiveley, David (Julie) Schiveley, Paul (Rosalie) Schiveley, all of Salinas; daughters, Dianna (Richard) McCormack of Salinas, and Martha (Phillip) Prendez of San Jose; 23 grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren; sisters, Margarita Valdez, and Consuelo Macias.
Visitation: 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18, at Healey Mortuary, 405 N. Sanborn Rd., Salinas.
Funeral services: 10 a.m. Friday, Oct. 19, Apostolic Praise Temple, 1104 Fontes Lane, Salinas.
Burial: Garden of Memories, Salinas.
Memorials: Monterey County SPCA.
Arrangements: Healey Mortuary.
Information: (831) 424-1848, http://www.healeymortuary.com.