Ana María de Jesús Herrera Guillén
December 28, 2022
Ana María de Jesús Herrera Guillén
Aug. 20, 1929-Nov. 27, 2022
Ana Maria “Anita” Guillén, a long-time resident of the Skagit Valley and widow of Northwest artist Jesus Guillén, died peacefully at the home of one of her sons in Renton, WA, on November 27, 2022
Maria was born in Múzquiz, Coahuila, Mexico on August 20, 1929 to Manuel and Tomasa Herrera. She married Jesus Guillén, an artist and farm worker, in 1951 and together they moved to the La Conner area in 1961. Jesus had fallen in love with the area the previous year while employed in the surrounding strawberry fields. They soon began raising their eight children while living in local farmworker housing and later in what would become their permanent home in the Town of La Conner.
Maria came from extreme poverty on the streets of Mexico, yet she was able to attend school in Mexico, graduated and was offered employment as a teacher. However, because of the traditional standards for women at the time she was not able to travel to accept employment. She went on to master the English language – as well as horticultural Latin – and became comfortable in virtually every social and cultural setting in which she found herself.
Maria was known as an artistic and knowledgeable gardener who developed a courtyard garden at the family’s La Conner home that became a popular destination for many regional gardeners. She was a gifted writer who wrote poetry, letters to the local newspaper editors with commentary on current events and maintained personal written journals throughout her life. She was an excellent, versatile cook – “We never lacked for an excellent meal,” one family member remarked – and taught Mexican cooking classes at Skagit Valley College and in her own kitchen. She was a member of the La Conner Civic Garden Club and Sacred Heart Catholic Church (La Conner). During the years the family lived in farm housing and beyond, she served as an interpreter for non-English speaking people on doctor’s appointments or accompanying health care workers who visited labor camps throughout the valley. Family members remember Maria supporting public health nurses and Peace Corps volunteers with her interpretive skills and providing food for them, too. She was a supporter of the Skagit County Historical Museum and assisted in developing exhibits that pertained to the history and culture of the valley’s Latino community.
And, until her eyesight began to fail, she never quit reading. She loved books and was a prolific reader with hundreds of books on history, gardening, and culture in her collection. She especially enjoyed biographies about people she admired.
Maria was the widow of Northwest artist Jesus Guillén (1926-1994) whose work was exhibited regionally including a comprehensive exhibit at the Skagit County Historical Museum in 2021. Together, Anita and Jesus raised eight children, all of whom attended La Conner schools; six graduated from college and all became active, contributing members of their respective communities with a special interest in social justice.
“Anita’s life story is an important part of the history of the Skagit Valley,” said Jo Wolfe, executive director of the Skagit County Historical Museum. “Her deep belief in education as a route to overcome adversity, her love of literature and reading, and her commitment to her family and community created a legacy that serves to inspire us all.”
Anita was preceded in death by her husband and her daughter Jovita Angelica Guillén.
She is survived by her beloved children,
Rosalinda Guillén (Joseph Moore), Elida (the late Antonio) Flores, Cristobal Guillén, Miguel Guillén, Barbara Guillén, Demetria Guillén, and Dante (Kimberly) Guillén.
She is also survived by grandchildren, Macario (Lorraine)Torres, Joaquin Torres, Nicolas Rosenstein, Dante (Carissa) Moreno, Selina (Shawn) Nelson, Ramces (Hannah) Chavez, Alejandro Jesus Guillén, Maria Candelaria (Tino) Garcia, Rocio Lopez, Erika (Damian) Villa, and Alejandro (Kori) Flores.
Great-grandchildren include, Tyler Gray, Liliana Moreno, Jillian Nelson, Samantha Nelson, Dionisio Rivera, Marcelo Rivera, Ciara Torres, Conor Torres, Cian Torres, Parker Torres, Ellen Torres, Lorenzo Rosenstein, Miette Rosenstein, Celia Garfias, Remijio Garfias, Mercedes Garfias, Anita Flores, Baron Dorsey, Elijah Flores, Noelia Moreno and Marcario Moreno.
Great-great-grandchildren include, Jesse Antonio de la Cruz, Samuel Gonzales, Eric Mayhew, Ezekiel Garfias and Vivianna Brown.
You may offer your condolences and share memories of Maria with her family online at http://www.kernfuneralhome.com.
Information regarding a future celebration of life will be posted in local newspapers. Memorial contributions may be made to the Jesus Guillén Memorial Art Scholarship in care of the Skagit Valley College Foundation, 2405 E. College Way, Mount Vernon, WA 98273 or donate online at http://www.mysvc.skagit.edu/foundation.giving.form.asp