Josephine “Aunt Jo” Thorbjornson was born in Santa Barbara to Isabel and Benjamin Lopez, the youngest of four children.
She graduated from Santa Barbara High School, and was employed locally at Imco Container Company from where she left to take a position at Santa Barbara Research where she ultimately retired.
If asked, her best job was taking care of her father Ben, who lived to be over 100! She was preceded in death by her parents; an infant sister Lucille; her brother Arthur Lopez; and her sister Gladys Anderson; as well as her nephew Michael John Lopez.
Aunt Jo embraced her Native Chumash heritage. Through her culture she gained the strength she lived by. She often shared the importance of staying true to yourself, show respect, tell no lies, there are no excuses, do your best job, ultimately your word is all you have.
She was diligent, focused and strong. She seldom invented an adventure but was always up and ready for the ride. She loved the beach and looked forward to camping in her beautiful mountains. Her eyes would light up when someone said, “Let’s go to the casino!”
Aunt Jo was the ultimate pet lover. She cared for her “animals” better than most people could. She knew her neighbors best who walked their dogs. She knew their dogs personality better than theirs. She mourned her pets that had passed and spoiled her visiting furry friends.
Her horse Tony followed her like a puppy and ate applesauce off of a plate. When she was in need, Aunt Jo’s loving friends pitched in and became cowgirls. We can never thank them enough for all they did.
Brandy, her poodle, does not understand her absence and we can relate.
Aunt Jo was the happiest when her courtyard was overflowing with company. Spring time always brought an abundance of company from all over. Decades of bare feet crossed her courtyard — “Be sure to clean the sand and tar before you come in” was quickly learned.
Organized chaos was a ritual. Family traditions ran thick, especially at Christmas time. Christmas Eve was always at Aunt Jo’s. Blood was not a requirement to be family.
She fell in love with her neighbors and became “Aunt Jo” to many. She was a good cook, and nobody left hungry.
Aunt Jo will be remembered for her tacos, potato salad, pililis, lemon drops, political opinions when asked, her music, and love of family. A glass of wine, a good book, her music playing in the sunshine of her courtyard, always checking on Brandy’s whereabouts, will be memories we all have.
Aunt Jo was a free spirit with a quick wit. She was in the “now” and owned a great sense of humor to the very end of her life. She was dateless in the way she faced every day. She was a warrior in her fight against cancer.
She passed away as she wished, at home, surrounded by her family. Aunt Jo is survived by many nieces and nephews, great, great-great, and a great-great-great.
AJ! We are better people for having had you in our lives. We will try to honor you by keeping your timeless spirit alive in us.
Come celebrate her life with us at 12:30 p.m. Nov. 19 at 30 Acres Cafe, 7414 Hollister Ave., Goleta. Located in L3HARRIS Technologies.