Today was grandma’s funeral mass and burial. It was sad, of course, but it wasn’t too sad; my dad gave the eulogy and his goal was to keep it light and full of funny stories (which it was; even the altar servers were laughing) and yesterday and today were basically spent telling stories about grandma and grandpa and all the weirdness of our family. I think that’s the way grandma would have wanted it.
In case anyone’s interested, here’s the obituary my dad wrote for her that appeared in the LA Times:
Emily Ortega Mahler, of Brea, California, formerly of Huntington Park and Los Angeles, CA, died peacefully in her sleep on June 3, 2015. Born June 27, 1927, she is predeceased by her parents Emilio C. and Mary Magdalene (Bustamante) Ortega of Huntington Park, CA and her late husband of 56 years, Robert A. Mahler of Los Angeles, CA. Emily is survived by her sister Evelyn (Ortega) Sheppard of Placentia, CA; son Robert Mahler of Moscow, ID; son Blake Mahler of Rancho Santa Margarita, CA; son Lance (Kerry) Mahler of La Habra, CA; daughter Vicke (Tom) Helmer of Greenwood Village, CO; six grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. Emily went to St. Matthias elementary school in Huntington Park and to Huntington Park High School. She graduated from the University of Southern California in 1949. After completing her degree and while Bob was in the service she taught school in small California towns including Maricopa and Susanville. Later she taught in several junior high and high schools in the Los Angeles School District. After many years in the classroom her energies were spent raising four children that included involvement in supporting organizations such as the PTA, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. As her children matured she changed emphasis and became a professional volunteer. Emily was especially proud of being a Trojan (USC). She always supported her alma mater. She was a charter member of Trojan Guild, an important support group for USC, and served on many committees within the University. She has been a USC football season ticket holder since 1967. She will miss tail-gating, traveling to South Bend for the great rivalry between USC and Notre Dame, and going to all of the home football games at the Coliseum. She is especially proud that two of her children, Vicke and Blake are USC graduates along with her son-in-law Tom. Over the past 20+ years she has volunteered one day a week at the USC Norris Cancer Center. Many of her best friends were met either in school at USC or at events that supported the institution. Emily was a professional volunteer and always a member of “something.” The more important “somethings” included the Mother Goose Guild support organization to Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC), several chapters of the American Association of University Women (AAUW), and Friends of California State University, Fullerton. Over the years she received dozens of awards for her efforts. In 1984 she received Brea’s first “Woman of the Year” award. Emily and her husband Bob were world travelers. They were able to visit all seven continents. She took tens of thousands of pictures to document her travels. Some of her favorite trips took her China, Antarctica, safaris in Africa, the Andes of South America and to Spain. Her last trip in 2014 was a Panama Canal cruise. Emily was always proud of her California family history. The Ortega’s, originally from northern Spain, have been in California for eight generations. Her great, great, great grandfather discovered San Francisco Bay as a scout for the Portola Expedition. She had relatives who are buried at 17 of California’s 21 missions. The Ortega Highway in Orange County is named for her family and her father, Emilio, founded the California-based Ortega Chili Company in the 1920’s. Many of those original products including Snap-E-Tom and canned green chilies are still on the market today. In college she wrote a history of this distinguished family. Being a catholic was always an important part of Emily’s identity. After marrying Bob she became a parishioner of St. Raphael’s in south-central Los Angeles where her children attended school. In addition to being active at St. Raphael she served as the school’s kindergarten teacher twice. She was a member of St. Angela Merici parish in Brea, California for the last 48 years. Her faith has allowed her to look forward to again seeing her husband Bob, parents Emilio and Mary, nephew Michael and many good friends who left before her on the other side of life, as we know it.