On Monday, February 1, 2021, Molly Becerra, loving mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and sister, passed away peacefully at 90 years of age.
Born Amalia Adelaida Gutierrez to Steve and Agnes Gutierrez on December 16, 1930 in Raton, New Mexico, Molly was fourth in a long line of twelve children. Most of Molly’s childhood was spent in Timnath, Colorado, where she and her family worked as farm laborers on local ranches, occasionally migrating to other states for work. Molly often told memorable stories of her childhood, recalling her love for playing outside with her brothers, and proud of the “tomboy” characterization given to her by her sisters.
In summer of 1945, while her family was picking cherries in San Jose, California, she met her husband Joe under the cherry trees— “the dynamic attraction I felt was love at first sight,” she wrote in a college assignment called, Summer Love. The two continued a long distance relationship until they were married on Thanksgiving Day, 1949, and started their life together in Sonoma, California. Molly and Joe purchased their first home in Santa Clara, California, where they resided for over 20 years and raised six children.
At age forty-three, Molly enrolled at West Valley/Mission College in the Women’s Re-entry Program. She completed her associate degree and began working for the college while continuing to take classes toward her bachelor’s degree. In January 1980, Molly and Joe relocated to Hollister, CA and found their dream home. Molly accepted an opportunity to start a teaching career while finishing her degree and credential at night. She graduated from San Jose State University at age fifty-three and found her passion as an educator teaching middle school, which she continued until her retirement in 1998. “Molly was an open-hearted teacher, who made a long lasting impact in the lives of many students and families in the community of Hollister,” recalls her colleague and dear friend, Eduardo Chamorro.
Being a grandmother came easy to her, she had a way of making each grandchild feel special and she formed unique relationships with all of them. The sentiment from her grandchildren was always— “If my parents made me mad, I’d want to go stay at Gramms.”
Grandma Molly’s (Gramms) best known recipes included her delicious Spanish rice, fresh frijoles de olla, enchiladas, Christmas tamales, and most notably, her fresh flour tortillas— a recipe passed down to her from her mother. Molly taught the art of tortilla making to many, always making sure to note that the most important detail was putting positive energy and love into the kneading of the dough.
Molly spent her “retirement” mentoring new teachers, substituting, teaching adults English as a second language, spending quality time with her children and grandchildren, tending to her parrot (Pepe) and the roses in her one-acre garden, painting, participating in a book club, frequenting Starbucks, walking with friends, and spending time with Bob “Mr. Bob” Bouchard, her late-life companion.
She was happiest while hosting annual family Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter celebrations at Casa Becerra. She was so proud of her ever-growing family and loved having them around. Molly radiated her deep faith in God and her appreciation for all her blessings throughout her life. Those who knew her will forever remember her beautiful silver hair, big smile, and joyous laughter.
She was preceded in death by her loving husband of 49 years, Joe Becerra, and her cherished daughter, Catherine Gonzales. Her beloved memory lives on through her children and their spouses: Son-in-law, Bob Gonzales of Santa Clara, CA; Joe and Nancy Becerra of Valley Springs, CA; Steve and Kim Becerra of Hollister, CA; Ann & Vince Fata of Hollister, CA; Dave and Nohemi Becerra of Carlsbad, CA; and Lisa and Carlos Hernandez of Hollister, CA; along with her 27 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren; her siblings, Katherine (Art) Gallegos, Margaret Flores, Frank Gutierrez, Jim (Mina) Gutierrez, Joe (Lydia) Gutierrez, Timothy (Emily) Gutierrez, John Gutierrez, and David (Norma) Gutierrez; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a private interment will take place at Calvary Cemetery. A Mass and Celebration of Life will be scheduled at a later date. Contributions in honor of Molly Becerra can be made to the Latino Generations Scholarship Fund or the San Benito County LULAC Council #2890-Scholarship Fund.