We were so blessed to have all of the family pull together and support one another. We all agreed on one thing, her life should be celebrated and not mourned. She gave selflessly to her family and others and had such a kind loving spirit that she made us all feel special. I met her 2 years after my own mother passed and she immediately made me feel welcome. I felt so lucky that the Lord gave me the gift of being able to be part of her family. I would like to share this tribute to her that is full of special memories we have of her.
January 15, 1924 to April 7, 2012
January 15, 1924 to April 7, 2012
Elaine was born Bertha Elaine Stewart on Jan 15, 1924 in Sanger, California to Elmer Stewart and Pearl Starr, from an early age she preferred to be called “Elaine”. She grew up in the Sanger area in a large loving family where she was taught the importance of putting family first. She worked hard around her home and enjoyed spending time with her four brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles.
As a young lady, Elaine aspired to be a model, and throughout her life she loved to dress up. Unfortunately, she did not grow tall enough, but that didn’t stop her from blooming into a beautiful woman and throughout her life, her most memorable features were her sparkling eyes and her beautiful (sometimes mischievous) smile.
Elaine had a strong work ethic, and after graduating from Sanger High School in 1942, she started exploring career choices. For a time she worked as an attendant at a hospital and as a housekeeper. She also enjoyed working as a waitress and meeting interesting people. While working, she had several brushes with fame, meeting several movie stars and even putting the famed “Tex Ritter” in his place when he was being rude! She loved to follow the Hollywood news and enjoyed going to movies, a love she shared with her children who still have fond memories of going to the movies with mom.
One of her most memorable jobs was working at the Roar Aircraft on B-24 aircraft for the war effort. She became one of the famed “Rosie the Riveters” supporting the troops from home. She hoped to be able to continue as a welder after the war, but willingly gave up that position to a returning veteran. She loved this country and was proud to be a patriot throughout her life.
It was not too many years after the war that she married her life partner, Frank Santos and for their 50 plus years together, with the help of their children and grandchildren, they built a successful Dairy business that thrived from 1951-1998 and was well respected in the community.
Elaine was a hard worker and accomplished homemaker, working right alongside her husband, milking, feeding and taking care of the dairy. Even with all the responsibility of home and family, she was active in 4H, FFA as well as being a member of the Sports and AG boosters and the Holstein Frisian association. She often accompanied her children to the fairs to support them while they showed their livestock.
Mom is best remembered by the love she put into her home cooking. She had a gift for preparing dishes that no one has been able to quite duplicate. She cooked from scratch using recipes she kept track of in her head. Her food always brought compliments, and comments from family and friends that they had never experienced food like it. So many of the memories we all have of Elaine are of special occasions and favorite dinners we enjoyed. You never walked in to her home without hearing “Did you eat yet?” and “let me fix you something”.
She will be dearly missed by all of those who knew and loved her.
Elaine’s husband preceded her in death. She is survived by three children and two grandsons. Her children are daughter Kathy Sewell and her husband Barry, son Steve and his wife Mary Ellen, and son Anthony. Two surviving grandsons and their families are; Steven and Pam Stephens and their son Joshua, Greg Sewell and his children Amanda, Katelyn and Karson, and 10 great grandchildren through marriage.
If you have memories of Elaine that you would like to share, please post a comment and I will make sure the family gets them.