Teresa Rodriguez celebrates 100th birthday
NORWALK — Natalia Teresa Mancilla Romero Rodriguez -- known as Teresa -- was born Aug. 30, 1919 in Santa Rosalia, Baja California Sur, Mexico.
She was born to Carmen Aviles Mancilla and Alfonso Romero. Her father died in the Spanish Influenza outbreak the January before.
Carmen’s brother encouraged her to take Teresa and her sister to America for better opportunities, so in 1920 they crossed the border, requesting permanent residence at Calexico. Carmen met her second husband while in San Diego and the family moved to west Whittier.
Teresa made the family’s tortillas daily. Teresa attended the local school with her siblings and many of the kids who lived in west Whittier and met her future husband. Teresa married Matias Silva Rodriguez in 1939 and had their first son, Alfonso, the same year, quickly followed by sons Matias (Matt) and Fred in the next three years.
Matias worked as an agricultural worker in the citrus and persimmon groves while raising their boys and saving up to purchase a house in Norwalk. Matias went to school to become a barber and opened a shop in Norwalk in 1955.
Teresa is a gifted baker and decorated many cakes in addition to making special occasion cakes for her grandchildren. Teresa and Matias’ first of nine grandchildren came in 1961. In their later years, they traveled often with their children and grandchildren to many places not only in California but also in Arizona, New Mexico, Hawaii, and Mexico.
Their house was the destination for Christmas morning celebrations where the family enjoyed handmade tamales, menudo and persimmon cookies. Matias died in 1996. Teresa has continued to spend time and travel with her children and grandchildren.
She has nine grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren and 10 great-great grandchildren.