María Julia Elba Yarrito Ojeda


Maria Julia Elba Yarrito Ojeda was born June 2, 1931 in the small town of Edcouch, Texas to the union of Juan B. Yarrito and Guadalupe P. Wilmon. Julia was an obedient yet inquisitive child. She grew up in the midst of a depression, the second born of six siblings. Mom used to talk about how her father was the owner of a grocery store that use to sell fresh meat and vegetables. Mom started working in the family business from an early age. She worked behind the counter of her father's store as a cashier. She was an avid reader, and enjoyed school. However at the age of 16, she had to drop out of school to help support the family. She started working at a local movie theater where she sold tickets at the box office. It was here where she just caught a glimpse of the young man who would ultimately be the father of her children.

My father, Trinidad was working down the street around the comer from the Movie Theater as a watch repairman at a local jewelry store. He fell in love with Mom. They married on March 7, 1948. They lived together as man and wife for thirty-one years. Five children were bom to their union. Sarah, Josie, Susan, Robert and Trine. The three eldest were all bom in Texas. When Susan was still an infant, my father migrated to Califomia in search of better job opportunities. He landed a job at a Hotel in Palm Springs and sent for his wife and children. When we stepped off the train, the sidewalks of Palm Springs were so hot you could fry an egg on the pavement. The family reunited and then set off for the bay area as our relatives helped find us temporary housing.

Life settled into a routine as the family lived in San Lorenzo for approximately two years. Mom and Dad worked hard and saved enough money to buy our home located in Hayward, California. They lived at 24020 Park Street for 19 years until our father passed away in 1979. Mom remained in the family home until 1997 when she and Susan's family moved to the Hayward Highlands.

Both Mom and Dad became actively involved in community affairs. Dad became the president of the local chapter of Community Service Organization which helped address the needs of the Hispanic Community. Mom was his second in command. They began attending School Board meetings, City Council meetings and many civic affairs. Both Mom and Dad were appointed to various advisory committees. Mom became extremely involved with immigrant rights, voting rights, housing rights of the local Hispanic community. She even attended Juvenile Court hearings with monolingual Spanish-speaking parents who needed help and guidance through the criminal justice system.
All of us watched, listened and leamed regarding activism and advocacy for the local Hispanic community. Mom helped co-found El Concilio de la Raza so that L.u.l.a.c., M.a.p.a., La Familia Mental Health, and many other Hispanic community groups could all have a forum where they could share their ideas for the needs of the community.

But above all, Mom taught us the meaning and importance of family-familia. Her concept of family not only included her immediate biological family but also her extended family as well as the community. She taught us that family came first, that we should always love one another, support one another in times of sickness or in health, "family would always be there no matter what". Even while ill, Mom worried about her children, grandchildren and her brother and sisters. She expressed her love for them often. Her generous, warm-hearted compassion taught us the the meaning oflove, familia, and civic duty.
Her legacy will live on as we carry her message of hope and courage in the face of adversity. As Mom would say, "Si se puede".

Por Josephine Ojeda Soto, Hayward, 2001

Hispanc activist Julia Ojeda,70, dies

HAYWARD -- For decades, cannery worker Julia Ojeda was an outspoken advocate for Hayward's Hispanic community. In the 1960s, '70s and '80s, she joined or formed organlzations such as Concilio de la Raza, which operated emergency food and clothing programs, helped with government red tape, and assisted with medical, legal, educational, flnancial and housing problems.
'Mom saw that our community, the Hispanic community, needed someone to speak for them," said daughter Josepbine Ojeda Soto of San Frandsco. Mrs. Ojeda, a Hayward resident for 50 years, died Tuesday,
August 28, 200l, at Kaiser Hospital in Oakland of complications due to diabetes. She was 70.
Mrs. Ojeda and her husband, Trinidad, who died in1979, came from her native Texas to find work in Hayward. They settled tn the largely Hispanic Burbank neighborhood, near the Hunt-Wessan cannery at B Street and Meekland Avenue. Susan Ojeda Cobos, another daughter with whom Mrs, Ojeda made her home in Harward, reclled that her father joined and later headed the Community Service Organizatoon, a group that helped Hispanics, In the 1960s, Julia OJeda served as her husband's "back-up," Cobos recalled.
"Mom was very articulate, and it was natural that people flocked to her for help," Cobos said, .That initial involvement led to Mrs. Ojeda's co-founding Concilio de la Raza in 1967, an umbrella organlzation to a coalition of Hispanic community groups. She shepherded the organlzation through a difficult transition period, including the relocation of a social services center in 1981 firom the Southgate area in west Hayward to B Street in the Burbank district.
Mrs. Ojeda found the B Street building aod helped refurbish it. The center had. been on the verge of disappearing when Mrs. Ojeda. took over. The move came at an opportune time because the cannery was in the process of closing and center employees helped cannery workers get new jobs.

"A tremendous amount of credit is due Julia," said José Dorado, who in 1981 succeeded Mrs. Ojeda as the center director. "She has done an awful lot that nobody even knows about."

Mrs. Ojeda remained involved in Hispanic community affairs, but reduced her involvement in organizations during the last 20 years to spend more time with her family.
In additton to her daughters, Mrs. Ojeda is survived by two other children, Robert Ojeda of Castro Valley and Trinidad Ojeda of Texas; nine grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at 11 a.m.; Tuesday at All Saints Catholic Church, Second and D streets. A vigil service will be held at 7 P,m· Monday at Machado's Hillside Chapel, 1151 Harder Road. Visitation will be from 2 to 7 p.m. Sunday. Burial will be at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, 25320 Mssion Blvd, Donations to the Amerfcan Cancer Society or the American Diabetes Association are preferred.

Karen Holzmeister, Daily Review, Friday, August 31, 2001

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