Bessie “Beth” Mildred Relvas was a loving wife, mother and friend. She left us on August 26, 2021 at age 94 at Doctors Medical Center in Modesto, California.
She was born to John B. and Rose L. Lewis on May 14, 1927 in Nashville, Tennessee. She began working as a switchboard operator at age 13 for the telephone company. Bessie dreamed of becoming a pilot in the Womens Airforce Service (WASP), but the wartime service ended prior to her eligibility. After graduating from high school, Bessie met and married William Harold Norton. They moved to Columbus, Ohio and together they had 1 child. Bessie was both a housewife and a hard working woman at Robinson’s Shoe Factory then later as a bookkeeper with her husband and brother-in-law at OK Rubber Welders.
An independent minded woman who refused to be deterred by any circumstance, Bessie later moved to Texas, where she married Jimmie Gerald Rhynes. Together they had 1 child.
By 1956, Bessie moved to California’s San Joaquin Valley, where she met and married Manuel Silveria Relvas. Together they had 2 daughters, Michelynn and Traci Isabel. They also shared the parenting of 2 daughters from prior marriages, Jennifer Leigh Rhynes and Cheryl Diane Relvas.
Bessie and Manuel created a home where all were welcome, and many who enjoyed their hospitality thought of Bessie and Manuel as surrogate parents. Bessie never let a child go hungry or without a safe place to call home. Additionally, working as partners and best friends, Bessie and Manual owned and operated a drywall and insulation business.
Bessie embraced life on her own terms and raised her daughters to be as strong and as independent as she had learned to be. She was active in all of her children’s school activities and became the consummate room mother.
Bessie is preceded in death by her parents John B. and Rose L. Lewis, her husband of 27 years Manuel Silveria Relvas, daughter Deborah Lewis Norton, and grandson Christin Michael O’Bryan.
She is survived by daughters Jennifer West, Michelynn “Michi” Relvas, Traci Yazembiak, and Cheryl Swart, grandchildren David H. Nelson and Ira L. Nelson of Indiana; Michael G. Yazembiak and Kyle C. Yazembiak of California; Ashlee O’Bryan Avila, Whitnee O’Bryan, and Stefanie Swart of California.
Bessie’s legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of everyone she touched as well as those she never met but reached through her influence on children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great grandchildren, nieces, nephews, friends and their spouses across the country.
Cremation services will be performed by Franklin Downs Funeral Home and Bessie will be interred alongside the love of her life, Manual S. Relvas at Golden Gate National Cemetery. At Bessie’s request no funeral or remembrance service will be held. In lieu of flowers, it was Bessie’s wish that donations be made to the Wounded Warrior Project or your favorite charity.
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