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On May 17, 2023, Josephine Santana Vasquez, aged 65, passed away at St. Mary Medical Center, surrounded by her husband and her five children. Her passing was sudden and unexpected and has left an unfillable void in her family and friend’s lives.
Josie was born on September 25, 1957, to Felipe and Anita Santana, and grew up in Cypress Park, CA. She was the baby of the family, the youngest of six children. From a young age, Josie had a big heart; she tended to a wide variety of pets. It was a lot of work, but she thoroughly enjoyed it. She was appointed the allowance secretary by her father. She would dole out the allowance amounts on small pieces of paper. She was a vivacious child, and if you upset her, you did not get your allowance. Somehow, she always ended up with the most. As a young child she attended Divine Savior Elementary School, followed by Nightingale Middle School. After graduating from Sacred Heart High School, she studied to be a dental assistant, eventually pursuing a career in the field.
She embarked on her life’s journey with her husband Hernan. They met as teenagers and were truly meant for each other. They were married on 6/21/1980. After a few years of living in the city, they decided Los Angeles was not where they wanted to raise their kids, so they took a leap and bought a small house on Aeroplane Dr. in Big Bear City. Christmas Day was the official moving day. The family drove from Los Angeles to Big Bear, and began their new life, in the middle of winter, surrounded by snow. They settled in and Big Bear quickly became their home, where they brought up their five children: Amber, Ashley, Jayme, Roman, and John. She was not one to allow her kids to run amuck. She encouraged good grades, she cheered loudly from the sidelines. She held her children to high standards, instilling her work ethic in all of them, ensuring their independence in the long run.
Josie tried everything. She was a very hard worker who always focused on providing for her family. She spent many years in the dental industry, among various other jobs over the years before she eventually settled on a career that brought her a lot of joy; she became a licensed cosmetologist, esthetician and electrologist. She catered to many patrons in the community, especially the elderly who needed her help. If someone was ever in need, family or friend, Josie always did what she could. She often took on a lot, despite her own busy life as a working mother of five. She was always moving, always busy, always helping.
She became Nana on January 9, 2010, when her first grandchild Caius was born. Later that year in December, the family welcomed Bristol, her first granddaughter. She relished her role as a grandmother. She eventually became Nana to a total of six grandchildren: Caius, Bristol, Camila, Oliver, Juliette and Jack. She jumped at every opportunity to spend time with them. She and Hernan traveled to Oahu to spend time with Camila and Oliver. They went north to the bay area to visit Juliette and Jack. She was truly an amazing Nana, always bearing gifts and treats. She would do anything for her grandkids.
Josie and Hernan loved Hawaii. They traveled there often, spending weeks at a time. They purchased a plot of land on the Big Island. Their dream was to build a small home, where they could escape Big Bear’s cold snowy winters.
The most important things in Josie’s life were her husband, her children, her grandchildren, her friends, her doggies, her garden, and her faith. She never wavered in her devotion to God, and she trusted him to guide her through life’s most turbulent and happiest times. She was a parishioner at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. She found tremendous strength and comfort in the Lord. Although her family is consumed with grief by her unforeseen loss, they are comforted by the fact that Josie has been called up to heaven, where she will continue to watch over her loved ones, until they meet again. Josie is survived by her husband, her children, her grandchildren, and her five siblings. She was a tremendous woman; her love, her laugh, and her generous spirit will be dearly missed by everyone she touched.
A prayer of the rosary will be said in her honor at 11:30 am on June 17, 2023 at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, 42242 North Shore Dr, Big Bear Lake, CA 92315, immediately followed by a funeral mass at 12:00 pm. A wake to celebrate Josie will be held after the mass at 2230 Mariposa Ln, Big Bear City, CA 92314. All who loved Josie and wish to celebrate her life are welcome to attend.