Frances “Pancha” Castro Chacon
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved mother, Frances “Pancha” Castro Chacon, on October 1, 2021. She is now in Heaven walking and dancing with our dad; while singing with the angels to the Lord. Frances, a life long resident of Ventura County was born Frances Claudina Castro on June 6, 1938 to Abelino and Rosalia Castro. She was a wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, Comadre, God-Mother, and a dear friend to many. She was affectionately known as “Pancha, the Queen of EL Rio.”
Frances raised in Santa Paula, California, began kindergarten at Gilroy Elementary in Northern California. She then attended Barbara Webster Elementary, Isbell Middle School, and Santa Paula High School. Frances left school in her junior year to marry “the love of her life,” our father John Chacon Sr. She retuned to school years later, earning a high school diploma at Oxnard Adult School. As part of her employment, Frances attended U.C. Davis in Northern California and earned a degree in Quality Control in Food Processing.
Frances was proud to be a member of the Teamsters Union, Local 186. She began seasonal work, packing lemons for Sunkist Growers, broccoli for Stokely-Van Camp, Inc. and strawberries for Kerns Frozen Foods. Frances began her career in Quality Control while working as a Lab Technician at Kerns. Shortly thereafter, she worked in the Lab at Ortega Chili Products-Heublein (chileria), Del Monte Foods, Nabisco Products and Kraft Foods. Frances was medically retired from Quality Control in 1996 after having surgery from a work related knee injury. She then worked part time translating and transcribing court documents for the Spanish speaking community. Although Frances worked about 20+ years at various food processing plants and as a court translator, mom said she had most fun at the “Chileria.”
Frances will always be remembered for her beautiful smile, her jovial laugh, and a voice that can sing. She surprised us when she sang at a Chacon Family Reunion in Camarillo. The way she belted out her rendition of “Volver Volver” by Vicente Fernandez, accompanied by the Mariachi band, shocked us all. We will miss the tradition of mom singing “Las Mañanitas” for our birthdays. If she couldn’t sing to us in person, mom made sure to call us up and sing it over the phone.
Frances and her sister Fina used to sing together accompanied by their brothers playing a mean guitar. After a night out on the town, her brothers would come and wake mom up at six in the morning by serenading her. Mom would get emotional as they played their guitars and sang to her. She would then cook them a hearty breakfast complete with homemade tortillas, and made sure to call their wives.
Frances enjoyed all kinds of music, but she loved Mexican music the most. She hosted BBQ’s that included music from a “Conjuto” group to a full on Mariachi band. Mom (and dad) attended many Mariachi concerts locally and at “La Fonda” in Los Angeles. She enjoyed watching Mariachi Los Camperos featuring Nati Cano” perform. Our mom (and dad) sold tickets for 30 years to the Mariachi Festival held at the Oxnard Community Center on the Saturday before each Mother’s Day
Mom was also a great cook, and taught us how to make everything from scratch. Every summer she made apricot jam from our apricot trees.
Mom made the best tamales, menudo, chili verde, chili colorado, meat or cheese enchiladas down to her traditional tacos, rice, & beans with homemade tortillas. She always had a bowl of masa (dough) in the fridge good to go on a hot comal (flat pan) for fresh homemade tortillas. If you have ever eaten them, then you know what I’m talking about.
Frances enjoyed being active in the community and she earned the respect of others. Mom joined the Rio Real Elementary School PTA (Parent Teacher Assn), first as Treasurer, then as the President. She was active in the PTA for many years, after her children were no longer in school. Frances ran for the Rio School Board as a trustee member for the El Rio School District. She beat the incumbent member on her first term, and ran unopposed on her second term.
Frances would campaign and lend her support for other leaders in the community. Those who ran for various offices, such as Ventura County Sheriff, VC Supervisor, City Councils, Mayor, and other School Board members. Mom also volunteered to work the snack bar, cooking burgers and burritos for the El Rio Little League. In addition, mom always helped our dad make “raspadas”
(snow cones) for all the Los Compadres Del Rio BBQ’s. She helped dad clean the Santa Clara Parish Chapel several months out of the year for several years; and she would helped dad prep and clean hundreds of pounds of “tripas,” (cow delicacy) to make tacos for various Catholic church fiestas throughout Ventura County.
Mom used to tell us “Don’t do anything wrong that would embarrass your grandma and grandpa.” But of course, she had a way of knowing when we did do wrong. Although mom would balance love and discipline, you did not want to be at the other end of “the belt” or her “chancla!!” She had eyes in the back of her head and could tag you without skipping a beat! Mom also stressed higher education and encouraged us to go to college. She gave us three choices after high school graduation: go back to school, get a job or get out! It was that simple.
Frances was a character. She was naturally funny and had a “witty” personality. Mom was beautiful on the inside as well as on the outside. She lived life to the fullest, and many of our friends enjoyed hanging out with her. Frances enjoyed camping at Lake Cachuma near Santa Barbara every summer for forty years. We had many families joining us and had the best time camping, fishing, BBQ, swimming in the pool, swimming at Red Rock River, and going to Solvang. Mom (and dad) knew how to camp. Even though we were supposed to be roughing it up at the lake, they thought of everything to make it enjoyable.
Mom had also had mischievous side to her. She could never wait for Christmas. Mom would cheat. She used to open up her Christmas gifts when we were not home, then rewrap them to make it look like it was originally wrapped. On some occasions, mom took the unwrapped gift back to the store and exchanged it for a gift that she wanted, bring it home and rewrap it. For the longest time we never knew how in the world that happened, so we had to hide all her gifts.
In her younger years, Mom used to drive a Pontiac GTO 5 speed with loud glass pack mufflers. She would rev up her engine next to the El Rio guys with weaker cars, knowing full she was egging them on to race. Many of them begged her to race even though us kids were in the car. Mom would laugh as she refused their offer. But as soon as the light turned green, mom use to drive away first, pop her clutch, down shift causing the glass pack mufflers to roar away loudly. Those guys wanted to race mom so much but out of respect, and fear, of our dad they chose not to.
Frances enjoyed spending time with her family & friends. But her all-time favorite was spending time with her grandchildren Jennifer, Vincent, Cesca & AnaLisa; and her great-grandson Drake. Mom loved being a grandma, who showered her grandchildren with love and affection. They in turned love their grandma Frances mucho much. As the grandkids were growing up, Grandma Frances and Granpa John would attend Jen’s ball games and then get ice cream afterwards. They used to drive from Oxnard to Bakersfield, Yucaipa, and Murietta, to watch Vince play soccer, basketball and baseball; as well as Cesca and Anas play softball and soccer games. And of course grandma Frances would spoil them on their birthdays and at Christmas time. In her later years during her illness, grandma enjoyed all their visits and phone calls and it brought so much joy to her heart. The first time she met her great grandson Drake, she would stare at him in amazement. Drake affectionately called her “G G,” short for great-grandma.
During the days of Covid quarantine, it was hard for mom to understand why she couldn’t hug her grandkids. As the months flew, her heart ached for them. Fortunately the country was open on Mom’s birthday this past June. She was able to celebrate her 83rd birthday together with all her children, her son-in-law Carl, daughter-in-law Denise, most of her grandchildren, including their future spouses (Brett Hellinger, Fernando Godina, & Andrew Kim) and her nieces Delilah Urrea and Cha Cha Soo Hoo. This time we sang “Las Mañanitas” to mom. We had a great time hugging and laughing; joking and celebrating moms birthday (unbeknownst to us, it would be her last).
The family would like to thank the many friends, family and caregivers who aided daughter Rosemary with moms care. Because of their help, mom was able to reside comfortably in her own home, throughout her entire illness. We especially thank our niece Delilah Urrea, for her exceptional commitment, TLC and support of mom from the beginning of moms illness, until the day mom passed. Delilah whom we affectionately call “the baby of the bunch,” and our cousin Ramon Chacon Jr., provided invaluable care, therapy, transportation and companionship for many years. The family also thanks Natasha Provencio, Juana Zambrano, and Michelle Martinez for their compassionate and personal care of mom; as well as other nurses aids from the Roze Room and Trusted Hospice.
Thank you to all family and friends for your thoughts, prayers and well wishes. We are very grateful to those of you who came to visit with mom, or who called her regularly. And also, to those who brought mom all the delicious meals and deserts. She usually greeted you with her huge smile and her big eyes popped out in gratitude. A special “thank you” to cousin Corina Lozano for bringing mom a meal every Sunday; and to daughter-in-law Denise Chacon for making mom meals from time to time, we appreciate you both.
Frances is survived by her son, John Chacon Jr., (Denise), daughters, Rosemary Chacon, Barbara Chacon Murillo (Carl), grandchildren, Jennifer Ciara Chacon, Vincent Joseph Murillo, Francesca Marie Murillo, AnaLisa Nicole Murillo, great-grandson, Drake Frances Wilson, brother Gilbert Castro (Jill), and numerous nieces, nephews and godchildren. Frances was preceded in death by her loving husband of 50 years John M. Chacon, her beloved parents, And her beloved siblings. Brothers, Arnulfo Castro, Rudy Castro, Abelino Castro Jr., Raymond Castro, Raul Castro Sr, Robert Castro Sr., Sisters, Josephine Castro Cuevas, Maria Del Carmen, and her companion dog of 16 years, “Babi.”
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held Friday, October 29, 2021 at 10am, at the Santa Clara Parish Chapel, 1333 Ventura Blvd., Oxnard, CA 93030. Burial will immediately follow at Santa Clara Cemetery, Oxnard, CA. At the family’s request there will be no public viewing. Out of an abundance of caution due to the on-going concerns for the COVID-19/Variant virus, the family is requesting no reception at this time. A “Celebration of Life” may be planned at a later date. A mask will be required inside the chapel regardless of vaccination status in accordance with Ventura County Public Health ordinances. Funeral services under the direction of Guardian Memorial, 200 N. “C” Street, Oxnard.
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