December 10, 1924 ~ January 26, 2011
In Loving Memory of Elisa Aguiniga Becerra
Elisa Aguiniga Becerra, who with her husband, Israel, founded several family operated La Villa Mexican food restaurants, has died. She was 86.
Elisa died January 26, 2011 of congestive heart failure at Torrance Memorial Hospital in Torrance, CA.
Elisa and Israel Becerraâ€™s La Villa Mexican food restaurants started in 1971 with their first location in Gardena and grew to include two restaurants in Manhattan Beach and one in Redondo Beach. Today, the Gardena location is the only remaining restaurant and is owned and operated by her youngest daughter and son-in-law.
Elisa was born December 10, 1924 in Paricutin, Michoacan, Mexico. Her family moved to Uruapan after the volcano, Popocatepetl, erupted, which Elisa witnessed as a young girl. She grew up in a strict Mexican family where her father forbade his daughters from attending school. Whenever her father was away for business, her mother enrolled her in school where she completed the 4th grade.
She met her husband in 1945 and started a family of six children. She has lived in Southern California since 1957. She held various jobs to support her family including sewing dresses on the assembly line to being promoted to supervisor for Mattel toys. With her savings and that of her husbandâ€™s, she was able to put down the seed money to enter into the restaurant business.
Elisa enjoyed crocheting, sewing, and cooking for her family. She had a sweet tooth, especially for the Mexican sweet breads shaped like little pigs (cochinitos) and shells (conchas) and enjoyed drinking abuelitaâ€™s brand of hot chocolate.
For over 20 years, she suffered from debilitating headaches that often left her in tears. Although many remedies were tried to alleviate her pain, medical and spiritual, nothing permanently worked. After undergoing by-pass surgery from a heart attack in 1998, Elisa continued to care for her family despite her many ailments.
Elisa will always be remembered for her unconditional love, beautiful green eyes, feisty personality, and tireless self-sacrifice in the face of many challenges. Surrounded by family members at all times upon entering the hospital on January 15, 2011, she was never alone, not even when she drew her last breath.
Elisa is survived by her husband of 65 years, Israel, son Ralph Becerra, daughters Maria Bertha Bryan, Maria Elena Distefano, Yolanda Risica, Alice Gilpin and Maria Eugenia Gardner. Her extended family includes 16 grandchildren, 31 great-grandchildren, 8 surviving siblings, and nieces and nephews.
Memorial services will be held at Rice Mortuary, 5310 Torrance Blvd., Torrance, CA 90503 on Wednesday, February 9, 2011 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
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