Editor’s note: This is a semi-regular feature that announces the deaths of people who lived in or impacted Santa Monica. Oftentimes the names and information are gathered from the ends of City Council meetings, when council adjourns in the memory of those who’ve passed.
There’s been much loss in Santa Monica recently.
Santa Monica High School student Leo Castillo died after a collision between his scooter and an automobile. More than 300 people have contributed nearly $20,000 to Castillo’s funeral on a website called GoFundMe. A collection box was also set up at the high school.
Additionally, this month City Council honored the parents of two city employees who died recently.
Mattie Williams, the mother of city employee Al Williams, was a longtime Santa Monica resident, Mayor Kevin McKeown said at council’s recent meeting. She passed away on April 28 at the age of 84. Williams was born in a small town in southern Arkansas to Ike and Melissa Woods.
“She was raised as a sharecropper’s daughter,” McKeown said at the close of the meeting. “In 1949, she married Early Williams and the family moved to Santa Monica in 1953 where they – talk about putting down roots – raised six sons and three daughters here in Santa Monica.”
Williams was a member of the Cavalry Baptist Church. She was the proud grandmother of 16 grandchildren, 28 great-grandchildren and, 11 great-great grandchildren.
“All those kids were her life,” McKeown said.
Estela Rodriguez, the mother of City Council office administrator Sonia Ramos, was honored at the close of council’s meeting earlier this month.
She was born on March 12, 1929 in Havana, Cuba, the daughter of Spanish immigrants, McKeown said. Estella and her husband, Vicente came to the United States in 1966 as political refugees. They to joined their children, including Sonia, after long years of separation, a result, McKeown said, of Cuba’s political climate.
“A homemaker in Cuba, Estela was also an accomplished writer and storyteller,” he said. “She hosted a weekly radio program that showcased her stories and her poetry. Here in the states, Estela first worked as a seamstress, stitching parachutes during the Vietnam War. She later worked for Bullocks and Bloomingdales.”
Rodriguez kept on working until her 77th birthday and, McKeown read, she was very proud of her newfound sewing profession.
“Estela was actively involved in her parish,” he said. “She cared deeply for others.”
Estela’s hobbies included cooking, reading, writing, and designing Halloween costumes for her grandchildren. She also designed costumes for their school plays.
McKeown extended sympathy on behalf of the council to both of the city employees and their families.