May 18, 1954 - January 4, 2022
Yolanda, lovingly known as Yoli, was born and raised in Reedley, California on May 18, 1954. She was the first daughter of Rosario and Margret Pantoja. As a baby, and as a sign of her love, Margaret used to dress her up in beautiful dresses when they left the house. As a child, Yoli attended St. LaSalle School where she spoke of the Franciscan nuns fostering her Catholic faith. Her sisters and brothers knew her as a second mother, always teaching with fun and creativity. Later, Yoli went on to attended Reedley High School, and Fresno State. She often told her daughters about how she loved being part of the Fresno State Folklorico Dance Team, and how she sewed costumes for their performances. She completed her Bachelor's Degree and teaching credential at CSU Bakersfield. After getting married, she and Raul lived in Sacramento before moving to Porterville, California. They spent 33 years in Porterville, where they raised their four daughters. As a mom, she is known for building loving confidence in her daughters, as they knew they were loved unconditionally and beyond measure. Her generous love was humble, funny and kind. But her greatest source of joy were her grandchildren, which is why she never missed a chance to cheer at their events or to talk to them about life's lessons in a way only she could. After her retirement in 2015, Yoli and Raul moved to Visalia. Yoli and Raul were married for 45 years and stayed by each other's side until the end. If you knew Yoli, you knew creativity was her way of life. She did everything her own way. Everything she touched was a work of art, from her home, to her classroom, to her family. She never wasted a chance to create, making beauty out of every scrap of wood, piece of paper, piece of fabric. This exceptional creativity was reflected in her career as a teacher and her commitment to her community. Yoli was a loving teacher for twenty-five years. Known by her students as Mrs. Pantoja, she spent the majority of her career at Olive Street School in Porterville, working as a bilingual education teacher in the 4th and 2nd grades. Yoli had a gentle way of reaching children and making them feel as if they were the most special person in the room. This truly brought her joy. With her students, and with anyone she encountered, she would see the image of God. She is revered by many as the teacher who made all the difference. Beyond teaching, she was part of every community she was in, whether building floats for parades, attending daily mass, or decorating for school events (like the Dia Del Nino festival at Olive Street School and her daughter's proms). Giving of herself and her talents was what she did naturally. Yolanda lived as she died, with sights on heaven. Yolanda exhibited her Catholic faith in more than just words. Even as a child she had a strong Faith. She saw every single person as a child of God, and that was exhibited in the way she made everyone feel unique and loved. She also had a distinctive way of seeing all sides of an issue, and having compassion for those who were suffering most. As she was in public, she was more so in private. Yoli was a very reflective person and spent much time contemplating the love of God and life's beauty. She passed on this wisdom to her daughters, siblings, and grandchildren. Yolanda Pantoja Pickett passed away on Tuesday, January 4, 2022 surrounded by her family's love. The lessons of self-sacrifice and perseverance exhibited throughout her life shined in abundance. Yoli will forever be remembered for her humble love, her exceptional creativity, and her loving wisdom. Her husband and daughters felt her love deeply, and can't help but to pass that on to their children to honor a life well lived. Mama, Nana, Sister, Baby, Mija... you are now in the arms of Jesus. You are no longer suffering. We love you and miss you dearly. She is preceded in death by her father, Rosario Pantoja, and is survived by her husband of 45 years, Raul Pickett; her daughters Margarita (Robert) Perez, Leticia (Daniel) Oberreuter, Adelina (Brandon) Carter, and Yesenia (Carlos) Lemus; her grandchildren Miliana, Italia, Isaac, Ximena, Paulo, Valentino, Luke, Rosario, Diego, Alina, and Emilio; her mother Margret Sanchez, and her siblings Irma Faria, Marco Pantoja, Anita Smith, and Ross Pantoja. Visitation will be held 5-7pm Thursday, February 3, 2022 at Salser & Dillard Funeral Chapel, 127 E Caldwell Ave., Visalia, with the Rosary to be prayed at 6pm. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated 10am Friday, February 4, 2022 at St. Anthony of Padua South, 1060 F Street, Reedley. The family has opted for a Celebration of Life sometime in the future to accommodate those who cannot travel at this time. Thus, no reception will be held. Services have been entrusted to Salser & Dillard Funeral Chapel. Memorial Tributes and condolences may be offered by logging onto www.salseranddillard.com.
Yolanda, lovingly known as Yoli, was born and raised in Reedley, California on May 18, 1954. She was the first daughter of Rosario and Margret Pantoja. As a baby, and as a sign of her love, Margaret used to dress her up in beautiful dresses... View Obituary & Service Information
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