Mildred G. Cheff
Mildred “Millie” Gertrude Cheff was born November 17, 1923 in Santa Barbara, California. She was an eighth generation Santa Barbaran and a direct descendant of Lt. Pablo Antonio Cota, one of the founders of the Presidio of Santa Barbara in 1782. Cheff was one of twelve children born to Juan and Elfina Cota. Her father Juan Cota was a renowned Spanish dancer who performed at the re-opening of the Lobero Theater in 1924, the first modern day Fiesta known as Old Spanish Days. From a young age, Mildred and her sisters were instructed by their father in the art of Spanish dance and performed with him during Old Spanish Days and at events all throughout California including before Governor Earl Warren. Santa Barbara audiences knew the lively young dancer by her performing name “Chiquita.” Aunt Millie loved the fact that she was among a long line of Cotas who appeared in every Fiesta in Santa Barbara’s Old Spanish Days history.
During the 1950s Mildred married the love of her life, Robert Cheff. Together they traveled and lived all across the United States until Robert’s passing in 1975. Mildred returned home and was a familiar face at many downtown commercial establishments. Although she had no children of her own, Mildred mothered dozens of her nieces, nephews, great-nieces and nephews and even great-great nieces and nephews who affectionately called her Mimi. Mildred is preceded in death by her parents, her husband, and her siblings, Alvin Cota, Constance Guevara, Edwin Cota, Frederick Cota, Gladys Lopez, Irene Tuttle, James Cota, John Cota, Ramona Viles and Theresa Kittleson. She is survived by her sister Kathleen Cota and her large extended family. Mildred passed peacefully at home Saturday, January 16, 2021 at the age of 97. She was cared for and surrounded by her loving family. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, services will be held at a later date.