Jessie Rivera


Our mother, Jessie Rivera, experienced a remarkable life full of love and devotion. On June 30, 2023, at the age of 92, surrounded by her family at the Lund Family Hospice Home in Gilbert, Arizona, Jessie left this world to start her new life with our Lord.

Jessie was born “Jesusita De La Torre” in Miami, Arizona, on Aug. 4, 1930. She was the sixth child of Juanita Morales De La Torre and Enrique De La Torre. She attended Bullion Plaza Elementary and Miami High School. As a teenager, she worked in a Miami jewelry store and a dress shop, which sparked her lifelong passion for jewelry and fashion. Jessie developed her own graceful dress style.

On May 29, 1950 she married the love of her life, Gilbert Rivera. He was her Romeo, and she was his Betty Boop. Together they were a team and built a wonderful life with their three children. Gilbert worked at the copper mines during the day, and after a home-cooked meal always with the family, he continued into the evenings in his garage, crafting his body and fender and radiator repair side jobs, so Jessie could focus on the family and home. Her nurturing presence created a daily atmosphere of love, comfort and stability that helped shape the lives of her children and future generations. She poured her heart and soul into her role as a mother and taught her children valuable life lessons. She was the family’s source of unwavering support.

In 1992 Jessie experienced the profound loss of her beloved, Gilbert. His passing left an indescribable void in her life, but she faced grief head on with courage and resilience to honor his memory in all that she did. She found spiritual growth and support as a long-time member of the Divine Grace Presbyterian Church in Miami, Arizona.

She loved to host family get-togethers, picnics at Oak Flats, last-minute weenie-roasts at Bloody Tanks, and talking and laughing at the kitchen table for hours with beloved family and good friends. She nurtured a gorgeous rose garden, enjoyed crafts, was fascinated with butterflies, and loved to try out new recipes. Her homemade tortillas won a “1st Place” blue ribbon at the Gila County Fair. Motivated by thriftiness and fashion, she learned to sew, and “sowed a seed” that Patsy cultivated from a seedling to an oak tree. She cheered her grandson Tony at all his baseball games. Nana loved all her grandchildren and reached out to them. In her own way, she encouraged and helped each grandchild become their own person. Her nieces and nephews called her “Tia” with love and respect.

Her smile will always be with us. Our eyes will tear, but our hearts will burst with love and joy when we see a butterfly sprinting freely about, or notice a smartly dressed woman donned with jewelry, sunglasses and belt, or when Gloria Vanderbilt perfume catches us by surprise. Thank you, Mother, for all your love showered so freely on us.

Jessie is survived by her three children, Lillian Avila (Gabriel), Patsy Elmer and Tony Rivera; five grandchildren, Monica Beal (Dan), Gabriel Avila (Tanya), Tricia Lydon, Tony Elmer (Katie) and Capt. Christine Collins, Ret. (Clinton); 14 great-grandchildren, and three great-great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held on Wednesday July 12, 2023, at the Divine Grace Presbyterian Church, 305 Live Oak St., Miami, Arizona. Visitation will be at 9 a.m. and funeral service at 10 a.m., followed by a private graveside service.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Divine Grace Presbyterian Church, Miami, Arizona, or Hospice of the Valley Lund Family Hospice Home, who provided amazing hospice care during Jessie’s last days. To donate:

Divine Grace Presbyterian Church, 305 Live Oak St., Miami, AZ 85339; (928) 473-3158.

Lund Family Hospice Home/Hospice of the Valley, 1982 E. Woodside Ct., Gilbert, AZ 85297; (480) 786-4482;