Gilroyan gets her last kiss on the cheek

Judy Marez was honored by more than 100 people at a celebration

When Judy Marez died from liver cancer Jan. 23, Gilroy lost one
of its truest friends. Marez and her partner of 40 years, Lonnie
Smith, painted more than 5,000 houses in Gilroy in their 30 years
in business.
When Judy Marez died from liver cancer Jan. 23, Gilroy lost one of its truest friends. Marez and her partner of 40 years, Lonnie Smith, painted more than 5,000 houses in Gilroy in their 30 years in business.

Although she had no children of her own, a Feb. 26 celebration of her life was graced by more than 100 people. Her graveside service had dignitaries there such as Sig Sanchez, and so many people from all over Gilroy who knew her and loved her.

Those present at the celebration of life shared many fond memories of her life and times.

They recalled how Marez never drove a car, preferring instead to ride her bike around town. Her first job was delivering telegrams for Western Union during World War II, sometimes being the one to bring the tragic news of a local boy killed in the war.

Gilroy was her favorite place. She loved Gilroy and the people who lived here.

She compiled an archive of memorabilia on the people of Gilroy, with her scrapbooks containing more than 70 years of Gilroy history in the form of obituaries, articles, yearbook pages and souvenirs of all kinds. They are being donated to Habing Family Funeral Home and to the Gilroy Museum.

She was an avid Mickey Mouse collector, making Disney cut-out characters and transforming her whole patio to her personal Disneyland.

Anyone who knew Judy could always expect a joke or two. People who knew her would come up to her and ask, “Judy where’s my joke?”

She always had one for them.

Her nieces recalled how during the hot summer months, they earned movie money by killing flies for her. She would pay them 10 cents for each fly, and it took 50 flies to earn enough to purchase tickets to the afternoon matinee.

Although many fond memories of Marez were recounted, no one expressed what it truly meant to have Judy as a friend more poignantly than Gilroyan Karen Shurden.

I could not have said what Karen said any better myself, so I decided to relay what she said at Judy’s celebration ceremony.

“I’ve known Judy my whole life,” she addressed the crowd at the celebration of life. “When I think of all the important times in my life, Judy was there. But more importantly, she was there for all of the everyday moments as well.

“One of my earliest memories of Judy is when she would pick me up at home, put me on the handlebars of her bike and ride me to my mom’s workplace. She would bring a hard-boiled egg for me to eat on the way.

“Judy was on hand at family gatherings such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. Everyone in my extended family knew and loved her. My grandma, who did not take kindly to outsiders, welcomed Judy into our home.

“Judy was present at my high school graduation and the day I brought my son home from the hospital. What is most endearing to me is the friendship between my mom and Judy. They were friends even before I was born. It was a constant friendship. I don’t believe they ever had a harsh word between them. During the last few years, they were especially close. Sidekicks I called them.

“I was especially grateful to Judy for the care she took of my mom. After my mom was hospitalized, Judy would come to our house to sit with her while I was at work. I knew I could always count on her.

“Last year I was ill for several months. As usual, Judy was there to help however she could. She was a shoulder for my mom and a source of hope for me. She would come into my room, her eyes rimmed with tears and just ask, ‘What can we do?’ Then, as always, she would say, ‘You know I love you sweetheart.’

“During my illness, I couldn’t be exposed to bacteria, so Judy came every week to clean my cat’s litter box. Anyone who knew Judy would agree that my cat had the cleanest litter box in town. She also washed his food and water bowls. She even tried to clean the corners of my cat’s eyes, which he protested strongly.

“Judy left us too quickly. None of us were ready to let her go. But with Judy, at least you knew there was nothing left unsaid. She told you she loved you at every meeting and always wanted a kiss on the cheek. On one of my last visits with her, though she was weak, she said, ‘Give me a kiss,’ and put her finger to her cheek.

“I find consolation in knowing Judy is with family, friends and beloved pets. And can you imagine how clean and organized heaven is now?”

Judy Marez,

February 16, 1932 – January 23, 2011

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