Domitila “Tillie” Rose Mendoza, lifelong resident of Santa Barbara, CA passed away on August 13, 2021 at the age of 95.
Our beloved matriarch, Tillie, was born on January 2, 1926, in Santa Barbara, CA, to Erlinda Luera Lopez and Pedro Lopez. She grew up and attended the local schools, Lincoln Elementary, Santa Barbara Junior High School, and Santa Barbara High School. In 1939 Tillie met Elisio “Lee” Hidalgo Mendoza. After three years of courtship, Lee and Tiliie were married on November 27, 1942, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Two months after their marriage, Lee was drafted into the US military. Three months later, during World War II, he was ordered to serve in North Africa. In 1945 he was sent to Italy. They exchanged love letters during the war. Lee returned from WWll in August 1945 and a year later Lee and Tillie started their family. Together they raised three sons and a daughter.
In 1959, they started Lee’s Plumbing & Heating, a plumbing and heating company at 806 East Haley Street in Santa Barbara. In 1973 it became Lee & Sons Plumbing & Heating, Inc. It still operates in its original location and has been responsible for training many family members in the trade. Tillie took on the administrative duties of the company and raised her family. She sat at her desk and welcomed everyone who came in with a big smile and a friendly, happy “hello”. Then, the next moment, she went back to her house (located and attached to the “store”) where she did whatever household chores life required.
In the mid-1950s, Lee and Tillie bought a plot of land on Sycamore Canyon Road. They spent many years building their new home in the 1980s and were very grateful to all the family and friends who helped. Lee and Tillie happily celebrated with friends and family on “The Lot” for years. The house was finally completed in 1987 and epitomized the years of hard work and love for the family. It was a source of pride. Tillie worked in the corporate world with her husband until his health issues pushed her away from her duties. For the next 10 years, Tillie devoted herself to caring for her husband. She made sure that Lee was included in all their activities and adventures. For Tillie, there were no boundaries for Lee and her. With the help of their dear family and friends, they continued their favorite bus trips to Las Vegas. Tillie’s devoted and loving care continued until Lee’s death on May 30, 2009. They were married for 66 1/2 years. As a widow, she continued to live life to the fullest. She cooked an abundance of food for family and friends to enjoy. She entertained everyone in her home, enjoyed dining at restaurants, attended Taco Tuesdays at the Moose Lodge with the Fragosa Family, traveled and rarely missed a party. Tillie did all this with a big smile and an open heart. During these last years Tillie had a helper and personal driver, Elias Espinoza. During the day he drove her through town. The Fragosa family lovingly drove her for her nighttime activities. Cecilia ‘Sally’ Solomon, her faithful cousin, was there for her, day and night, for whatever she needed and to enjoy herself with. Tillie never slowed down. She kept everyone who loved her very busy.
“We are family” was the theme of her life. She treated her friends like family and opened her heart and home to everyone. “Family” was her top priority. Her love and loyalty was felt and seen in everyone she came in contact with. She wasn’t afraid to speak her mind and always got her way because, well, she was “mama” or “grandma TiTi”. Family and friends wanted to make her happy because she deserved it. There are very few souls who have the same energy and bright light as she possessed. She was a very special woman with the sweetest smile.
She will be greatly missed by her 4 children, Richard Mendoza (Susan), Linda Mendoza Cantu (Ralph), Andrew Mendoza (Jody) and Michael Mendoza (Sonya), her 10 grandchildren, Lee Cantu (Jeanette), Marlies Mendoza Horton (Conan ), Matthew Mendoza (Maureen), Shelly Cantu, Linnea Mendoza, Aaron Mendoza (Caysi), John Mendoza (Ashlie), Joseph Mendoza (Rebecca), Nathan Mendoza (Jamie) and Liana Mendoza, her 23 great-grandchildren, her 3 great-great-grandchildren , her cousin and “partner in crime” Cecilia “Sally” Solomon, and many beloved cousins, nieces and nephews. There are plenty of family and friends who feel this deep loss and are recognized for how important they were in her life.
Tillie was preceded in death by her husband, Lee Mendoza, her parents, Erlinda “Nana” Lopez and Pedro Lopez, and brothers Joseph Wesley and Efraim Lopez.
The viewing will take place on Thursday, August 26, 2021 from 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church at 1300 East Valley Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93108. The Rosary will follow at 6:00 AM at Our Lady of Woman of the Carmel Church. A funeral mass will be held on Friday, August 27, 2021 at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church at 10:00 AM. Burial will follow at Calvary Cemetery, 199 North Hope Avenue, Santa Barbara, CA 93110. Arrangements by Welch-Ryce-Haider.