nana's cover photo
Sofia Magdaleno Mendoza
  • 80 years old
  • Date of birth: Dec 22, 1934
  • Place of birth:
    Filmore, California, United States
  • Date of passing: Mar 14, 2015
  • Place of passing:
    San Jose, California, United States
My purpose in life is to help people. I am only one person. By myself, I am nothing. It was never me that accomplished all these things, the credit goes to the community.

This website was created to celebrate the life of our loved one, Sofia Mendoza. Our family is deeply grateful to all of you who expressed sympathy and condolences in every form. We are looking forward to celebrating Sofia's life at the Mexican Heritage Plaza on Sunday, May 17th from 5-9pm. There will be musicians and performances and a video/picture gallery from 3-5pm. 

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in celebration of her life to the following website to help fund the service we are planning to celebrate her life. We are also setting up a scholarship in her name to support education and healthcare, her two biggest passions. 


We are expecting a crowd of nearly 2,000 people from all the lives she impacted through her leadership. With any funds she had available, she gave back to others. Now we need your help to give Sofia the grand celebration of her life she deserves.

We encourage everyone to give some time in sharing stories on how Sofia touched your lives and please upload as many pictures or videos with/of Sofia. This site is meant to be kept alive through many generations to come so her future great grandchildren and future leaders will know how she lived. Let us all celebrate and honor Sofia by living a life of always giving back and mentoring others. May her spirit of leadership and community organizing live with all of you forever.    


Memorial Tributes
This tribute was added by Omar Salazar on 4th February 2016

"I'm living in Chile, and I've just learned about Sophia's passing. I'm, one of those Chilean refugees that Gil Villagran mentions in his tribute. Sophia Mendoza, her husband "el Carnal", Gil Villagran, Father Moriarty, Fred Hirsch, Paul Johnston, Millie Blendermann, are names that are forever engraved in our hearts, filled with gratitude for their contributions and efforts in helping us start a new life in the USA.

Since our arrival to San Jose, Sophia was there, waiting for us,  always with her big smile, helping our wives, daughters, companeras who had been imprisoned and tortured  by the military in Chile, and needed counseling, medical attention, or, more important, a big hug, a sincere smile, a friendly face, a motherly advice, a worm heart, an honest advice, Sophia, with other community leaders, gave us all of that and much more: jobs, education, true friendship, unconditional love and new hopes to start a new life in this country.

My prayers are for Sophia, her family, and on behalf of all Chilean refugees of San Jose and the Bay Area, I salute a great woman, a great Community leader, and above all, a true friend who will live forever in our hearts.

Thanks, Mama Sophy. May your beautiful soul rest in peace.

Con amor,
Omar Salazar
Vina del Mar, Chile, Enero 2016"

This tribute was added by Karen fujishin on 17th May 2015

"thank you so much for inspiring to finish my education,I almost completed to get my degree but the program I went through denied told me never give up!!! I have a few more years!!!"

This tribute was added by Gil Villagran on 17th May 2015

"Dear friends,

I met Sofia as a new social worker, just hired at the SC County Department of Social Services, when she and Jim McEntee came to a meeting of El Comite (The Committee on Services to theSpanish Speaking) about in 1971, when she and Jim presented their style of Community Organizing.  

I have continued to learn from her since then, organizing with her and others on the Mayor's Gang Task Force, a Latino Youth Peace (anti-gang) Conference.  We also planned, along with Lorna Dee and Steve Cervantes one of the Annual Chicano Moratorium memorials at CET.  Later I joined with Sofia and other in organizing countless other events, celebrations, most often--critical demonstrations and actions against police brutality--including the murder of Danny Trevino.

It was specially gratifying to work with Sofia on a weekly basis driving to SF airport to pick up families of brutalized victims of the Pinochet-Nxon-Kissinger 1973 CIA sponsored coup de 'etat.  We created the Chilean Refugee Support Committee, along with Companero Fred Hirsch and Father Cuchulain Moriarty, where we developed a comprehensive program of services for the more than 115 refugees and their families.  
A Swedish sociologist heard about our work with the Chilenos, and came to San Jose to study our work, so that it could be replicated in the Nordic countries where thousands of Chilean refugees had settled.

Sofia and I have been neighbors for 40 years, shopping at the same Mi Pueblo Mercado on Julian St., where we often ran into each other on Sunday afternoons, and we would have sweet platicas about the issues del Pueblo de San Jose, which for us is a pueblo unlike anywhere in the world, a beautiful city to raise our families, live our lives, except for the injustices where the few (now called the 1%) make life miserable for the many.

I will mourn the loss of our beautiful, gracious Sofie--who never gave up La Lucha, following Joe Hill's plea, "Don't Mourn, Organize!"

Let us all, who learned from and loved Sofie Mendoza, memorialize in celebration of a life well lived in service to her community--La Gente de Paz del Pueblo de San Jose.

Sinceramente,  Gil Villagrán
Lecturer, School of Social Work
San Jose State University"

This tribute was added by Norma Martinez-Palmer on 16th May 2015

"I learned to be a courageous Bilingual Educator as a young teacher in San Jose from Sofia.  In appreciation for her wisdom, leadership and  her generosity. I still make her turkey stuffing recipe every year!. Gracias Sofia por todo y que descanse en paz."

This tribute was added by Olga Najera-Ramirez on 13th May 2015

"Thank you Sofia for your generous contributions to my documentary and your support to all folklorico dancers!"

This tribute was added by alicia mendeke on 2nd May 2015

"Watching Sofia Mendoza was a lesson in awareness and effectiveness.  Thanks for the contributions to the State Superintendent's  Honig's Hispanic Affairs Committee.   ."

This tribute was added by Art Magdaleno on 12th April 2015

"Love you Tia. Sophia. You were an inspiration to many. Manuel. Arturo. Magdaleno"

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This memorial is administered by:

Bonnie Panlasigui


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