Helen Ramirez

Date of Birth

June 18, 1933

Date of Death

February 10, 2022

Helen Ramirez passed away on February 10, 2022 after a prolonged illness. She was born in El Paso, Texas to James and Velia (Montañez) Robinson. Her parents and her older sisters Yolanda and Irene, younger sisters Lillian and Ruby, and younger brother Louie all preceded her in death. On June 16, 1987 she also lost a son, David, to a motorcycle accident. Helen is survived by her husband Jose, children Susan Cavalli (Dave) and Joe, and grandsons Chayton and Talon Ramirez, grandson Matthew Cavalli (Kaylin) and their children Aydin, Paisley and Macie in Omaha, NE., and many cousins and nephews. She was a military wife and as such moved around the country after her marriage to Jose in 1965. Miami, Florida was her first “assignment” followed by Cherry Point and Camp Lejeune, N. C., El Toro, California, and finally, Santa Barbara. She and Jose met in El Paso when he went there to attend Texas Western University (now UTEP). She worked in the soda fountain of the Cortez Hotel where he was a Bellman. When Jose was planning to join the Navy, he was underweight, so she would put extra scoops of ice cream in his shakes to help him gain weight. It worked!

Helen was a diligent mother who had to carry on those duties by herself while Jose, a Marine Corps aviator, was deployed overseas on several occasions. The Ramirez family arrived in Santa Barbara in 1975 and settled on the Mesa becoming members of the Holy Cross Church parish. She immediately joined the Altar Society and became an active member in that organization as Secretary and Treasurer for many years. She helped organize the yearly picnic, Christmas Boutique, and other fund-raising projects. She was the coordinator for many social functions at the church, specifically after-funeral receptions at the hall (Monsignor Hayes jokingly referred to her as his “funeral director”). She crocheted countless blankets for the nuns from Tijuana and for the Unity Shoppe. She volunteered at Catholic Charities, the religious items store, and any other task for which she was asked. She was an accomplished painter, stamp collector and maker of plaster figurines. Helen loved to take long walks along the Shoreline Park and along Cabrillo to State Street. She had several walking partners who, at times, would take her along twice. It was her strong constitution that enabled her to withstand numerous surgeries and hospital stays. Helen was a devout catholic who adored the Virgin Mary, Mother of God. She would attend the 8:00 a.m. weekly masses and stay to pray the rosary. Afterwards she and some of her fellow parishioners would walk the half block to McDonald’s for their morning coffee. Those same friends brought her breakfast and coffee just two days before her passing.

The family would like to thank her primary physician Dr. Gerald Svedlow who treated her for over 25 years and became a dear friend; thanks to Dr. Jeffrey Gauvin, surgeon extraordinaire who saved her life and granted her extra years with us. And our gratitude to the staff of Visiting Nurses Association who provided loving care and support to her and to us.

Helen never met a person she didn’t like, and the feeling was mutual: she was loved by everyone who knew her. Her beautiful smile will be sorely missed by all. A rosary will be held on Friday, February 25 at 6:30 p.m. and a funeral mass at 10:00 a.m. at Holy Cross Church, 1740 Cliff Drive in Santa Barbara. Interment will follow at Calvary Cemetery close to her son, David. In lieu of flowers please make donations in Helen’s memory to the National Kidney Foundation and/or to the American Diabetes Association.


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