Julia Mendola, 90, passed away recently in Queen Creek, Arizona. She was a first-generation American, born April of 1932 in the small coal mining town of Nanticoke, PA. to Italian immigrant parents, Celeste and Loreta Ottaviani.
Julia had a happy childhood, exploring the woods near the family home, and learning traditional Italian cooking from her mother. As a teenager, she was the high school majorette and in recent years could still twirl a baton – much to the delight of her children and grandchildren.
A generous and caring person, she received her RN certification and practiced nursing as a young adult, and again in her later years, testing hearing and vision in school children.
When her children were young, the family, often with friends, enjoyed camping and boating trips to the lake, or beach trips to Rocky Point. Later, she and her husband, Frank, traveled to out of the way places and small towns in Arizona and the west, exploring local history.
Spending time with friends was important to her, whether at the theater, movies, bunco night, having an intimate gathering or playing cards. Julia always enjoyed reading, crossword puzzles, and other challenges to keep her mind sharp.
She will be remembered for annual holiday celebrations she hosted for her large extended family and welcomed any and all friends. Julia would always prepare a huge spread of favorite recipes, including homemade pasta and delectable and delicate cookies. These goodies and gatherings live on in the hearts of many.
Above all else, she loved and cared for all her family. To her children she was the ideal mom, and she loved their spouses as her own. To her grandchildren, she was the perfect “Gummy,” always attentive and lovingly indulgent, and was so very happy to also be part of her great-grandchildren’s lives. And to her friends, she was a favorite, and forever loyal.
Julia is preceded in death by husbands, Anthony Beeunas and Frank Mendola; sister, Jenny Ricci; and brother, Rudy Ottaviani. She is survived by her children, Mark Beeunas (Nancy); John Mendola (Andrea) of Tucson; Marie Howland (Blair) of Queen Creek; Grandchildren, Jessica Heartz (Ryan) and their daughters, Julietta, Nora, and Lyla; Maria Patterson (Zachery) and their daughter, Juniper; Abbie Mendoza (Derek) and their children, Ruby, and Wyatt; James Mendola.
Julia touched many hearts in her long life. We are all the better for having known her.
Donations may be made to Hospice of the Valley or American Cancer Society.