Emerita J. “Merin” Rivera, a beloved mother, wife and grandmother passed away peacefully in her sleep on April 22, 2020, at the age of 97.
Merin was born in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, on Nov. 28, 1922. She was the middle child born to Antonio Jimenez and Maria Gonzales. She met her husband Felix Rivera in Puerto Rico, and they were married on July 10, 1943.
In 1945, Felix moved to Santa Barbara and obtained work in construction. Three months later, Merin, with their first son Felix Jr. joined Felix Sr. and started her new life in Santa Barbara.
Merin befriended her Mexican neighbors and soon learned to make flour tortillas. Merin went to night school to learn English as she began to assimilate into a new culture incorporating her Puerto Rican heritage and adapting to the 1950’s American culture as she raised three more son: John, Fred and Jimmie. She shared a loving marriage for the next 69 years.
Merin was a lifelong devout Roman Catholic, with a humble spirit and unwavering faith. She attended Guadalupe Church in Santa Barbara and brought cut flowers from her garden during Easter service each year. Later, she attended St. Raphael Parish in Goleta. Merin sought comfort from praying with any one of the assortment of her rosary collection.
Merin began working in a laundry in Santa Barbara and continued gaining domestic work experience as a housekeeper in private homes and a hospital, and finally obtained her CNA certificate and worked until she retired from a local care facility.
In retirement, Merin and Felix joined a local travel club and enjoyed traveling to several locations around the world and in the United States. Trips to Rome, the Vatican, the holy city in Jerusalem, and Hawaii were some of their most memorable. They also enjoyed trips to the National Parks, Las Vegas and the local Chumash casino.
Throughout the years, Merin made many friends and was able to seek out and connect with other Puerto Ricans who lived in Santa Barbara. She enjoyed hosting holidays and especially loved having family gatherings. Caring for and camping with her grandchildren brought her great joy.
In her free time, Merin enjoyed gardening, sewing, knitting, reading the newspaper and magazines, and watching her telenovelas.
She leaves her son Felix Jr. and his wife Cean; granddaughters Monica, Kathleen and Tina; son Fred and his wife Dianne; grandson Solomon Smaniotto; son Jimmie and his wife Liz; granddaughters Gina and Maria; daughter-in-law Stephanie Arehart; grandsons Sam and Maxx; 10 great grandchildren; and 12 great, great grandchildren.
Merin was preceded in death by her spouse Felix Rivera in 2014; and her son John Rivera in 2017, who died at the age of 69.
The Rivera family would like to thank the owners and caregivers at Villa Blanca for their friendship and care they gave Merin, as well as Assisted Hospice for the support they provided. Her sweet and loving manner and caring spirit will be greatly missed.
Because of the current gathering restrictions, a private burial took place at the Santa Barbara Calvary Cemetery. A celebration of life will be planned for a future date.