Obituary of Clarita Josephina Candelaria Fitch (“Jo Fitch”)
Clarita Josephina Candelaria Fitch (“Jo Fitch”), 87, of Nevada City, CA died the evening of March 14, 2019, with her husband and children by her side.
Jo was born to the late Dolores Baca Candelaria and Roger Candelaria, April 18, 1931, in a house on the Continental Divide near Quemado, New Mexico. Jo attended school in Quemado; Harwood Boarding School in Albuquerque, NM, and the University of New Mexico, where she met
her future husband, James Fitch.
Jo and Jim lived together in New Mexico before relocating to Stockton, California for more than 30 years, then 30 years in Nevada County. Jo is survived by Jim Fitch, her husband of 68 years and five children: Helena Fitch-Snyder, Jamie Candelaria Greene, Mary Fitch Candelaria, Jerome Fitch Candelaria, and Daniel Candelaria Fitch. She is also survived by five grandchildren: Kevin, Elise, Carinn, Alanna, and Bret.
Jo witnessed the beginning of the atomic age – literally. A country-girl, Jo was up before dawn the morning of July 16, 1945 while at Bible Camp approximately 30 miles from White Sands NM, where she was stunned to witness the dark sky turning brighter than daylight, a prolonged vibration, and a peculiar wind. Told by authorities that what she had witnessed was the result of an ammunition train exploding near Magdalena New Mexico, Jo didn’t buy it: “There ARE no trains near Magdalena,” “she told them.
Jo would do right when confronted with injustices. For example, in 1968, a group of neighborhood women knocked at her door in North Stockton, petition in hand, and declared: “A [black family] has moved onto OUR block! What are we going to do about it?!” Jo responded, “I’ll certainly do something about it!” and abruptly shut the door, lit the stove, collected a few eggs, broke the eggs in flour, baked a cake, frosted the cake, gathered up her small children, and marched over to welcome her new neighbors.
At a time when many moms strived to emulate TV show perfection, Jo was unconcerned with such convention, allowing her daughter, Helena, free reign to raise a wide variety of exotic animals at home including giant snakes and rare primates. Jo also did regular battle at schools on behalf of her children – demanding mainstreaming of one child that officials said should be in a “special school” and standing down stern nuns, i.e. Nun: “Your child is TOO creative!” Jo: “Thank you. I encourage that.”
Jo taught special education and Folk Dancing in Stockton schools. She was particularly passionate about not letting American History forget how Hispanics are part of the Nation’s story – “Don’t forget,” she would say, “Santa Fe [NM] was a CITY when Plymouth Rock was still a PEBBLE.”
The joy that Jo brought to this world will always live on in the hearts of those who knew her, whether as a true friend to all, a loving mother to five, or a devoted wife to one.
The burial took place on March 21 at Nevada’s City’s Historic Catholic cemetery. A Celebration of Life event will be held for her on April 27, in honor of her birth month.
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