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Anne Marie Mendez, 80, passed away on December 28, 2023 in Hanford after a brief but intense fight with cancer. She was born on May 29, 1943, in Hanford, California. Anne was a devoted daughter, sister, niece, aunt, cousin, mother, nana (grandmother) and great grandmother who cherished spending time with her family and friends. She was ahead of her time, embracing differences of culture, background, and thinking decades before mainstream society found it acceptable. She modeled for her children and grandchildren a deep sense of kindness and compassion towards everyone she met.
Anne is survived by her son Joseph Castro (Mary), daughter April Aquino (Juan), grandchildren Isaac Castro (Marilyn), Christian Telles (Nadia), Lauren Castro, Jaclyn Aquino (Spencer (Fiancee)), Ariana Aquino, and Jess Castro, as well as great-grandchildren Juliana and Anaika Telles. She is also survived by her sisters Loretta Ponce (John), Patricia Griffith (Mike), and Roberta Mendez (Yolanda), and brother Gilbert Mendez (Roark), as well as many loving uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces and cousins. Anne was preceded in death by her father, Jess Mendez, and mother, Mary Mendez.
She was born under modest conditions in a small shed and was the oldest of five siblings. She was educated at Saint Rose McCarthy School, Hanford High School, and the Federico Beauty Institute. She pursued a forty-plus year career as a highly-skilled beautician, building close relationships with her many loyal customers. Her work, while gratifying to her, required long hours of standing and breathing smoke and toxic hair products until regulations were changed toward the end of her career. Anne’s hands, feet and respiratory system bore the brunt of her labor of love, which likely led to the cancer she fought at the end of her life. She was not only known for her expertise but also for the kindness and support she offered to those who needed it. The beauty salons where she worked were always a place of friendship and laughter, where her (mostly) women customers found comfort, joy and, of course, exchanged local gossip.
Anne loved to celebrate all holidays, adorning her home, yard, and work area with festive decorations. She was known for her creative Halloween costumes, her delicious cheeseballs and cherry cheese pies during Christmas, her extraordinary Albondigas soup and her lifelong love of Elvis Presley’s music. Anne had a unique tradition of transforming her Christmas tree into a New Year's tree each year. She was also a fierce supporter of military veterans, especially prisoners of war and those who were missing in action, injured or died while serving, and she celebrated their service during Independence Day, Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
She most enjoyed spending time with her friends and family. Her sisters, brother, cousins, children and grandchildren were a constant positive presence in her life. In her post-retirement years, she helped to take care of her elderly parents and, after they passed away, she joined her family and friends for walks at the mall, concerts, sporting events, movies, and meals that often included a margarita.
Anne took some memorable trips throughout her life. As a beautician, she often traveled throughout California and Nevada to attend hair shows where she learned about new hair styling techniques and products. She also visited Washington DC, Nashville and Hawaii. Anne surprised everyone, even herself, by getting a tattoo of a peace symbol from a guy named Viking when she visited Maui.
While Anne never married, she was always surrounded by loving family and friends who enriched her very full life.
Anne's family wishes to thank the friendly and helpful staff at Hanford Adventist Hospital and Brighton Post-Acute Center for caring for her during the challenging final days of her life.
A funeral service for Anne will be held on January 26, 2024 at 11:00 am at Whitehurst McNamara Funeral Home in Hanford, California. Her life will be celebrated with pictures and the music she loved along with brief eulogies by a few close friends and family. Following the service, a burial site ceremony will take place at Calvary Cemetery in Hanford. Anne will be buried along side her late parents.
Anne will be deeply missed by her family, friends, and all who had the privilege of knowing her. Her legacy of loyalty, kindness, acceptance, compassion, and love will forever be cherished.