Aug. 24, 1918 –Jan. 16, 2013
Eleanor Pauline Walsh Martinez Birney passed away peacefully at her home in San Gabriel on Jan. 16 at the age of 94 with many of her children at her bedside.
Eleanor was born Aug. 24, 1918 in Bakersfield to Genevieve Buletti-Walsh and Joseph Walsh. Her mother passed away when Eleanor was 3, so she and her younger brother Joe were raised by her grandmother Paolina Buletti-Rossi and their father until her father married Eleanor Grieving.
The family soon grew with the birth of Rita Mary Walsh.
Eleanor attended Immaculate Heart of Mary Elementary School, Bakersfield High School, Hollywood High School, graduating with honors from Belmont High School at the young age of 16.
Eleanor would have gone to college, but with the Depression ongoing her father needed her to work in his soda fountain/restaurant business to help make ends meet.
Eleanor’s met the love of her life Charles (“Charlie”) Pizarro Martinez III. She was just 15 and he was 20 and lived next door in Hollywood.
They eloped on Jan. 24, 1938 to Yuma, Ariz. combining their honeymoon with a business trip for Charlie’s recently purchased business, McCabe Silversmiths.
Eleanor had 10 children starting with Chuck in 1939, followed by Gini, Cathy, Terry, Melinda, Tom, Patti, Jim, Joe and Bill in 1958. Eleanor was a caring and devoted wife and mother, and an excellent cook, passing on her skills and recipes to her children.
Charlie and Eleanor began raising their children in Hollywood, then built their first house on Hesby Street in North Hollywood, and then moved into the former Weddington Family House in North Hollywood where Charlie planned to move his business.
During these years, the family enjoyed many holidays at their mountainside cabin in Crestline. Sadly, Charlie passed away in 1960 at 46. Eleanor took a job with the State of California and raised her children alone until she met and married Elwood Birney in 1964.
Elwood had three grown sons so the family grew to 13 children.
In 1968, they moved to La Crescenta and ran Elwood’s floor covering business until 1992 when they retired. Eleanor and Elwood spent many summers entertaining at home by the pool, camping with the family throughout California and Baja California, and in later years travelling the country in their RV. Elwood passed away in 1997.
Eleanor first lived in Montrose, eventually moving in with daughter Terry and her husband Jon in San Gabriel to spend her final years.
Eleanor enjoyed a longtime membership in the Catholic Daughters of the Americas, holding many offices, ultimately becoming Grand Regent of Court Saint Jude in Montrose and later a state officer. She always was the life of the party and opened her home to family, friends and her children’s friends.
Eleanor was preceded in death by her brother Joseph Walsh and her oldest son Charles Martinez IV. She is survived by her nine remaining children: Genevieve Martinez-McLoud, Catherine Martinez-McBroom, Theresa Martinez-Birney Tardino, Melinda Martinez-Birney Nielsen, Thomas Martinez- Birney, Patricia Martinez-Birney Christopher, James Martinez-Birney, Joseph Martinez-Birney, William Martinez-Birney, and stepsons Elwood Birney Jr., Robert Birney and Michael Birney; their spouses; numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great grandchildren; nieces and nephews; sister Rita Mary Hannah; cousins Ruth Rossi-Keegan, Bill Rossi and Pauline Rossi-Lewisp; and too many good friends and extended family to count. Eleanor will be dearly missed by many and will remain in our hearts forever.
A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. today, Thursday, Jan. 24 at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, 2411 Montrose Ave. in Montrose, followed by a reception in the parish hall. Graveside service will be at San Fernando Mission Cemetery.
The family thanks the wonderful caregivers from Med Care Plus Hospice and Eleanor’s longtime caregiver Toeti.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Catholic Daughters of the Americas, Court San Ysidro Number 1507, Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Tujunga, California.
Guestbook at www.crippenmortuary.com.