Tina Marie Louise Wooton
Tina Wooton, beloved wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend, fought a courageous three and a half year battle with stage four, advanced esophageal cancer, and passed away on December 21, 2021. She is now reunited with her mother, Frances Wooton, father Celil George Wooton, brother Larry Salerno, sister-in-law Robin Williams, sister Dolly Ann Salerno, aunt Anna Marie Almy, niece Andrea Salerno, and in-laws Patricia Raya, Ray Raya, Steve Raya, and Raymond Raya Jr. Tina is survived by her best friend and husband Frank Raya, greatest gift and daughter FayAnn Wooton-Raya, brothers Jack Wooton and Pasquale Salerno, sister-in-laws Christina Salerno, and Valarie Wooton, closest and beloved nephew Lawrence Salerno and family, and brother in-laws Raymond Raya and Mark Raya.
Tina simply was a gift from heaven with her positive attitude, energy, and outlook on life. No one enjoyed life more than her! When Tina was diagnosed with cancer, she told her oncologist Dr. Mukal Gupta, that her one goal was to attend her daughter FayAnn’s college graduation, which at the time, was three years to date. Tina was determined and fought as hard as she could to make it to FayAnn’s graduation. Luckily, she was able to attend, and as she would describe it to be her “proudest moment.” Tina fought her disease the same way she lived life- with a positive attitude and energy like taking a walk in the park. The nickname the staff gave her at the Ridley-Tree Cancer Center was “Mrs. Disneyland”. What a perfect name for the happiest woman in the world. There was no better way to describe her spirit and character.
Tina was proud of many things but, being a mom was her greatest joy! The bond she built with FayAnn was like no other. From hosting sleepovers from a young age to their road trips up and down the state, to dance, gymnastics, soccer and lacrosse memories, volunteering at school and in the community, traveling the world together, sorority mom’s weekend visits, and moving home after college to take care of her mom will be memories FayAnn will have for a lifetime.
Tina and her husband Frank, of almost 27 years, had a love story like no other. From meeting in kindergarten 60 years ago, Tina always had her “Frankie” by her side. Tina and Frank continued to grow up together from a young age, by having mutual friend groups and family friends, to even dating in junior high and attending each other’s high school graduations. After a thirteen-year gap of growing up and starting their careers following high school, Tina and Frank were finally reacquainted. As Frank would describe, he was lucky enough to marry the girl of his dreams. To their endless travels and lifetime of memories made together, they truly encaptured a fairytale love story. Until we meet again my beautiful Tina.
Tina was a graduate of Norte Del Rio High School, class of 1975, and enjoyed traveling, fine dining, shopping, walking, listening to music, going to concerts, being by the ocean, bike rides with Frank, spending time with FayAnn, and being with her friends and family. In her off time, she loved to go to bingo, no matter how far of a drive. Over the years, her nickname Bingo Tina became and will forever be remembered. She began playing bingo since she was able to with her mom Frances Wooton, and continued to play until she no longer could, a month before her passing.
One of Tina’s greatest passions in life was breaking the stigma of mental health and creating a voice for those who suffered with mental illness. Tina will always hold a special place in the hearts of the peers at Cal Voices in Sacramento, as she was a role model and mentor to so many of them. She began her career at the Mental Health Association, Sacramento Chapter in 1997 as the first Consumer Advocate Liaison in Sacramento County. Tina was a pioneer in the role of Consumer Advocacy and advocated for this position in counties across the state. Since then, most counties in California have created a peer in the role of Consumer Advocate thanks to her persistence and dedication. She always thought big and wanted to make an everlasting impact. She believed there was “no empowerment without employment” and worked tirelessly to advocate for peer employment. In 2004, she moved onto the State Department of Mental Health. In 2005, she was appointed by then Governor Schwarzenegger and remained (until her death) the longest serving member of the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission in California, serving as both Chair and Co-Chair in recent years.
Tina’s position as the Consumer Empowerment Manager for the Santa Barbara Department of Behavioral Wellness is what moved her family from Sacramento to beautiful Santa Barbara in 2009. Tina wanted to be reappointed to the MHSOAC and was determined to continue her work as recently as November 2021, one month before her passing. She was the recipient of many awards on both the state and local level, and perhaps her favorite was the Clifford Beers Award she received in 2000 from the Mental Health Association. Tina treated strangers with the same grace and dignity of Commissioners and never forgot where she came from despite her love of fancy things like Chanel and Swarovski crystal. She had a heart of gold. She was steadfast in public service and was never going to give up on her advocacy work. One of her favorite expressions was “don’t let no grass grow under my feet.”
She never did. With over 25 years in mental health advocacy, she left an imprint of her legacy and values that will forever live on and continue as a model and inspiration to those in the mental health field for years to come.
Tina was loved by many and will be missed by all. She was truly touched by all of the love and support given to her during her battle of cancer. She would want us to live our lives to the fullest, always smile, be kind to others, love hard, help one another, and enjoy every moment. Tina’s positive, bright, and beautiful spirit will forever live on.
A celebration of Tina’s life will be held in Fair Oaks at Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church (11427 Fair Oaks Blvd, Fair Oaks, CA. 95628) on Thursday, March 24th at 2pm.