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Vonnell Mantarro
July 21, 1937 - March 15, 2022
Vonnell Mantarro
Vonnell Mantarro (1937-2022)

Vonnell Mantarro

July 21, 1937 -March 15, 2022

Vonnell was born to Ural and Laurie Willett in Whiteface, Texas, and passed away peacefully at home on Tuesday, March 15th.

As one of five children of Ural and Laurie, growing up Vonnell learned early the importance of hard work in the cotton fields of West Texas where she pulled cotton with her family.

The Willett family lived in half dug-outs, a common shelter on the plains at that time. Although they moved often as Ural looked for work, Vonnell continued her education and graduated from Whitharral High School in 1956.

After high school, Vonnell spent time in Pennsylvania with her brother David’s family before coming to California to be with her sister Mary and her family. From there, Vonnell would set off on her own to live in San Diego. When her mother asked for help however, Vonnell left San Diego for Turlock to help support her parents and younger sisters. She secured a job with American Thread. Following her work at American Thread, Vonnell started working for the Marsh family at Modesto Bowl.

Vonnell enjoyed her time at the bowling alley as both an avid bowler and bookkeeper. In 1964 at the bowling alley, Vonnell met the love of her life, Paul Mantarro. Vonnell was immediately smitten with Paul, and they soon set July 10, 1965, as their wedding date.

Married at St. Stanislaus Catholic Church with their reception at the Tuolumne River Lodge, Paul and Vonnell enjoyed 53 years together. Their first home was in Salida then onto Modesto, and in 1978 they made their home at the old farm house on Butcher Road in what was then called No Man’s Land Modesto.

In their early years, whatever hobbies Paul enjoyed meant that Vonnell also enjoyed them, including coin collecting, bottle collecting where he was a member of the Jim Beam Bottle and Specialties Club in addition to their passion for bowling. They traveled up and down the valley on Paul’s motorcycle to find treasures and see extended family.

Once Paul and Vonnell started their own family with Lisa and Michael, her world became that of her children. She was an adoring mother who showered love and kindness on her children every day of their lives.

When the kids where little, Vonnell worked actively in the Sherwood School PTA as well as the Blue Bird/Camp Fire Girls program where she was a troupe leader. Vonnell also began working the food processing season at Stanislaus Food Products, where she proudly worked for 25 years moving from belt worker to supervisor.

While Paul continued his hobbies which now included go-karting, Vonnell never missed a beat in being supportive of her family. She dedicated herself to learning Italian cooking and became adept at hosting meals whether it was for the extended family or go-karting contacts Paul would bring by the house.

As they ultimately settled in Ceres, Vonnell became very active in the Caswell School PTA as well as a volunteer for Ceres Youth Baseball and Ceres High Booster Club. She dedicated time each week to both of her children’s classrooms as a room parent, a tradition that she maintained for decades, including her older grandchildren.

In addition to her room parent role, Vonnell could always be counted on to drive her children and all of their friends everywhere around town – school function, sporting event, church and many more. Vonnell always made people feel welcome and had a warm meal prepared no matter the occasion. As her children grew and developed their own friends, Vonnell was delighted to host their friends at the Mantarro house truly making everyone comfortable in her home. She loved baking and sharing her goodies with family and friends.

In 1995, when Vonnell and Paul first became grandparents, Vonnell loved every minute she had with each of her grandsons. She once again dedicated her life to their needs. She relished every chance to spend time and make memories with her grandchildren. With her oldest grandsons, Austin and Aiden, she drove them to school, made their lunches and sat through endless practice sessions so that their parents could work. She loved every minute of these experiences as everyone around Ceres would come to know her.

Although her youngest grandson, Logan, lives in Los Angeles, she looked forward every day to checking on him and visits with him, while showering him with thoughtful presents, words of love and FaceTime calls with Grammy throughout the year.

Vonnell began volunteering at Sam Vaughn Elementary School in 2004 where she would assist children with their reading comprehension in the primary grades. She excelled in this part of her life with the tender compassion she offered each of the children. In 2013, Vonnell was named Volunteer of the Year by the Ceres Unified School District. She continued her volunteer activities up until 2019 when Covid started.

As a loving mother and grandmother, Vonnell made it a point to speak to her children every day. She was most excited when she was also able to connect directly with all three grandsons in the same day.

Vonnell was always game to participate with any family adventure with Lisa, Randy and Austin, enjoyed her trips to LA to see Michael, Nelly and Logan, and road trips to Iowa to visit Aiden, and all parts in between as long as she was with family. Vonnell’s strength of character was evident in all that she did. She loved fiercely and never waivered in her faith. Her care and compassion was felt by those around her. She was genuine, sincere and loving in every way, truly a remarkable person.

Vonnell was proceeded in death by her beloved husband Paul as well as her siblings – David Willett and Mary Louise Bills. She is survived by her children – Lisa Mantarro Moore and her husband, Randy Moore, and Michael Mantarro and his wife, Nelly Gonzalez-Mantarro and her grandsons whom she loved so much – Austin Mantarro Moore, Aiden Mantarro Moore and Logan Gonzalez Mantarro. Vonnell is also survived by her sisters – Linda Gay Thomas and Reba Schmidt. Vonnell will be greatly missed by her many nieces and nephews, family and friends everywhere as well as the community as a whole.

Services for Vonnell will begin on Monday, March 28, with a Rosary at 5 pm at Salas Brothers. A funeral service will be held on Tuesday, March 29, at 10 am at St. Stanislaus Church located at 709 J Street with a graveside observance to follow at the St. Stanislaus Catholic Cemetery. A luncheon and reception will follow at the home of Dan and Paula Schmidt, 3018 Pioneer Road, Hughson.