Helen Clara Garduque, who grew up and lived her entire adult life on the Westside passed away on Thursday, March 8, 2012 in Santa Monica. Born in the Philippine Islands, Helen was 99 years young when she died. An accomplished student, active in sports and music, she was a proud graduate of Redondo Beach Union High School. While it was her dream to continue her formal education, as the eldest daughter in her family of three brothers and three sisters, she took a job as a waitress to contribute to the household. At the restaurant, she met her future husband, Domingo (Duke) Garduque. They married in 1932, and eventually moved to Santa Monica where they raised their family. Helen continued to work outside of the home, balancing the responsibilities of bringing up their two girls Tonia and Laurie while having increasingly responsible jobs in the electronics industry. Upon her retirement in 1975, she enjoyed her time with Duke until he died in 1987, kept busy helping to care for her three granddaughters, and traveled across the United States. Her circle of family and friends continued to grow over time, from her early lively years in Redondo Beach, the gatherings of the Santa Maria Association, the gang with whom she commuted to work every day, and her friendships with the crowd at the Santa Monica Senior Center. In her golden years, she spent many wonderful hours watching her six great-grandchildren at sports and going to their music concerts, and sharing her warm smile and gracious ways with both friends and strangers. She became an accomplished Scrabble player, enjoyed her walks on the Santa Monica Promenade, and maintained her independence with the care and support of her companion, Ting. Never at a loss for words or laughter, Helen had a quick wit and wry sense of humor. She expressed her opinions, and stood her ground with grace and goodwill. Helen, who became better known as Gigi, took great pride in her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren and taught them by example the importance of having a close and loving family. Her love, passion and commitment to Duke, her girls, and her family are gifts that they will cherish and honor in her memory. Helen is survived by her daughters, Laurie Garduque of Chicago, IL and Tonia Lapenia (Hank) of Santa Monica, CA; her granddaughters Lynn Lapenia of Santa Monica, CA; Kristen Opre (Michael) of Irvine, CA; and Sheryl Zucker (Richard) of Santa Monica, CA; her great-grandchildren Harrison and Jared Klann, Jordan and Cassandra Opre, and Jacob and Noah Zucker; and her cousins, numerous nieces, nephews and friends. She was preceded in death by her parents, George and Martina Hill; and her husband of 55 years, Domingo Garduque who passed away in 1987. The Service will be held at Pacific Crest Cemetery Chapel in Redondo Beach on Friday March 16, 2012 at 11am. The graveside service will immediately follow. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Helen's memory to WISE & Healthy Aging, and mailed to WISE & Healthy Aging, 1527 4th St., 2nd Floor, Santa Monica, CA 90401.

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  1. To Helen’s ohana: we know Helen had the best of the best. your family saw to that and now she’s on her way to another life, God bless her. to her family of much, be assured that she is looking down to see what you’re doing for her. we love you folks and God bless you and yours.

  2. Our Aunt Helen; a realistic, beautiful, true example, of a Lady that lived a wholesome and well earned, wonderful life from birth, until she peacefully took her very last breath, 99 years later. Over the years Aunt Helen, I learned a lot about life, as I watched you raise and grow your family. Morals, values, honesty, dedication, so on and so forth. Helping me learn how to become a better human being, in todays society. For this, I thank you, with all of my love, respect, and appreciation. Your Nephew, Ray M

  3. Helen always made us feel loved and cared for throughtout the many years we’ve known her. The good fortune of living next to such a wonderful person always made us feel blessed and we are truly thankful….like sunshine she could brighten up your world. Helen was an absolutely amazing person that will be missed. Our deepest sympathy to the family.

  4. Laurie, I send my condolences to you and your family. It seems like Helen Clara Garduque was a very special person and you were lucky to have had her in your life for so many years. Hold on to the memories. Louise

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