Elsie M. Cecchetti
March 16, 1922 – March 11, 2021
Elsie M. Cecchetti, 98 was a native of Arroyo Grande, CA and passed away on March 11, 2021; just 5 days shy of her 99th birthday. She was born on March 16, 1922, on the Carroll Ranch in Edna, to the late John and Mary Azevedo. She was the oldest of four children and started out milking cows at the age of 5 until she was 15. She would deliver the milk in a wagon to the creamery in town.
Elsie worked at numerous dairies to buy her school clothes. When attending Arroyo Grande Schools, she only spoke Portuguese, but taught herself English. She graduated from Arroyo Grande High School (where the Paulding campus is now) in 1943. In her early career she worked various jobs harvesting crops, was a plane spotter and switchboard operator during World War II.
Elsie worked on the Cecchetti Ranch picking beans, where she met the love of her life, George Cecchetti. George and Elsie were married in Arroyo Grande on September 15, 1945. They enjoyed dancing on Saturday nights at the Portuguese Hall, along with their love of Square Dancing together, and were members of the Hill Toppers, Dave’s Pairs ‘N’ Harmony and Mesa Twirlers clubs for many years. Their favorite vacation was camping at Bass Lake with their children, grandchildren, family and friends, especially during the 4th of July. Enjoyed fishing the creeks throughout the Sierra National Forest, Bass Lake loop with their kids and grandkids. They spent 47 wonderful years together.
In 1957, Elsie became a school bus driver although not driving a bus, but a 1957 yellow Ford pickup which included a canvas-covered camper shell and bench seats in the bed. She drove the pickup for 2 ½ years until the CHP said it couldn’t be used for a bus. So, Branch School bought a 22-seat bus, which she taught herself to drive.
In 1960 Branch School became part of Lucia Mar Unified School district and she began driving larger buses. She continued “driving a Crown” until retiring in 1993.
Elsie was honored to be the Grand Marshall for the Arroyo Grande Valley Harvest Festival in 2016. She was a longtime member of Luso-American Fraternal Federation (since 1946), I.D.E.S., Director of Arroyo Grande Hall Association, Cabrillo Civic Club, S.E.S., Historical Society, C.S.E.A., C.G.C., Farm Bureau Association, and a member of the St. Patrick’s Catholic Church. She was recognized as an Honorary member of both the Arroyo Grande FFA and Arroyo Grande Sportsman Club.
Elsie was a long-time coordinator for the Portuguese Celebrations. Not only did she organize, but you would also see her carrying the flags plus marching right alongside the queens and their courts.
You could say she WAS the Portuguese celebration!
Elsie loved tending to her garden, canning the fruits of her labor and raising her cows and chickens. She adored her dog Shiloh, who she called her companion. She loved her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, along with numerous close friends whom she treated like family.
Elsie is survived by her four children: George (Tukie) and Linda, Marleen (Cecchetti) Freire, Melvin and Gayle, Judy Cecchetti; grandchildren, JR. Cecchetti, Erica (Freire) and Chad Correia, Alisa Cecchetti; great-grandchildren, Bryce Hatfield, CJ Correia, and Jackson Correia.
She is also survived by sister Lena Hugger, sister-in-law Gerrie Quaresma and numerous nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her husband George Cecchetti, her parents John and Mary Azevedo and son-in-law Eddie Freire.
The family would like to extend their gratitude for her many caregivers who loved and cared for her these past few years.
The viewing will be held Thursday, March 25, 2021, from 2 pm – 7 pm, Marshall-Spoo Sunset Funeral Chapel, Grover Beach.
Services, Friday, March 26, 2021, 10:00 am at St. Patrick's Catholic Church, Arroyo Grande, followed by a burial at the Arroyo Grande Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to be made in her honor to Arroyo Grande FFA (495 Valley Rd, AG) or Woods Humane Society (875 Oklahoma Ave, SLO 93405).
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