Obiturary – Gilda Gonzalez Guerrero

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Photo: Gilda Guerrero with Sara Moss, one of her many extended children. Credit: Debbie Findling
Gilda Guerrero with Sara Moss, one of her many extended children. Photo: Debbie Findling

Gilda Gonzalez Guerrero
April 4, 1947 to September 27, 2018

Gilda Gonzalez Guerrero was born April 4, 1947, in Guatemala City, Guatemala to Maria Dolores Crispin and Rigoberto Gonzalez. The youngest of seven children, as a child Gilda dreamed of coming to the United States, frequently climbing a rooftop to look North.

When she was 21, Gilda flew to America, settling in San Francisco’s Mission District. She quickly submerged herself in her new culture, taking English classes, working as a hotel maid, and making new friends. Having arrived shortly before 1968’s “Summer of Love,” Gilda adopted the City’s hippie spirit, wearing tight jeans and chatting with her best friends, Olivia Guerrero and Maria Elva Romo, over bottomless cups of coffee and Kent 100s. She enjoyed dancing and loved going to clubs, joining a folklorico dancing group.

On Valentine’s Day in 1971, Gilda met her future husband, Jose Armando Guerrero. They married a year later, on February 29, 1972, and had three children together: Armando, Krisheidy, and Daniel. In 1998, they separated and eventually divorced.

Gilda was passionate about children and family. She invested her energies into her nieces and nephews, formally becoming guardian of two nieces, Yicel Guerrero and Miriam Lissette Saenz. She made delicious coffee, of which her young charges often stole sips.

In 1991, Gilda relocated her family to Richmond, where her children grew up and eventually started having kids of their own. She was blessed with four grandchildren, Brandon Hall, Lennea Castro, Ryosuke Guerrero, and Ashanti Guerrero. Gilda frequently said, “I always wanted to take care of my grandkids, but God had something else planned for me.”

Following her love of children, Gilda took kids’ education classes and worked at several day care centers throughout what became a 40-year career caring for others’ offspring. In 1999, while subbing as a nanny in San Francisco, she was approached by Andy Greenberg, who was so impressed watching Gilda’s remarkable skills with children at the Upper Noe Recreation Center that she offered her a full-time job caring for her sons. Once Andy’s children had grown, Gilda nannied for Andy’s friends with newborns. Andy continued to see Gilda while she provided child care, often picking her up at the end of the day so she could have a few minutes to talk with her on the drive to a Bay Area Rapid Transit station.

Gilda made every child feel special, gifting parents by blessing them with her focus, intelligence and humor. With each successive caretaker job, Gilda’s extended family grew larger. View publisher Steven Moss and his wife, Debbie Findling, hired Gilda to nanny their newborn daughter, Sara, in 2001. According to Debbie, Gilda taught her how to be a mom. She became second mother to Sara. Years later, when Sara was a teenager, Sara and Gilda would spend time together, and Gilda was honored at Sara’s bat mitzvah.

When Eleanor Drey and Rennie Saunders needed a babysitter and asked Debbie for a reference, Debbie said she and Steven thought so highly of Gilda that they considered having another child just so they wouldn’t have to let her go. Red-haired Leo and Gilda became enthusiastic soulmates, creating elaborate drawings, chatting with the other babysitters in the park, with Gilda proudly listening to Leo speaking Spanish, and engaging in make-believe games, which often included an array of costumes. Realizing how important Leo’s stuffed monkey was to him, Gilda made sure that Monkey always was in esposas in the stroller, so that he couldn’t go missing, like the hats and shoes Leo loved throwing out during their long daily walks to Glen Park. Leo always looked forward to sleepovers at abuelita Gilda’s house, where he could be found happily eating pancakes in her bed, doing art projects, playing with Guapo or looking at her fish. As with all the children lucky to be in Gilda’s care, Leo gained confidence and joy from her unconditional love. Eleanor and Rennie relied on her wisdom and judgment to help them become better parents.

Gilda loved walking, making jewelry, and channel surfing. Sometimes she could be found watching the guide channel, eyes closed, remote in hand. She was patriotic, proudly flying the American flag on Independence Day. She loved futbol, especially the World Cup. Every four years she’d camp out in front of her television and cheer for her favorite teams. Each winter, she’d cook large batches of homemade tamales that she’d hand deliver to the families whose children she’d worked with as a nanny.

Gilda was an activist in the Christian church community. She believed everything was in God’s hands and had a purpose. She was a “prayer warrior,” who had a team of women with whom she’d pray. Her faith in Jesus Christ was most important to her, along with accepting Him as her one and only savior. She often spoke about how He impacted her life and how important it was to include Him in everything we do.

A few days before she passed she was filled with gratitude and love, surrounded by people whose lives she’d deeply affected. Her strength, optimism, and faith sustained her until the end, when she passed peacefully in the loving and grateful presence of her family on Thursday, September 27, 2018, at the age of 71.