Juanita Rea will be the latest centenarian.
The longtime Lathrop resident turns 100 on Sunday. She’s currently a resident of the Remolona Family Guest Homes in Manteca.
“We were going to do something big but had a change of plans,” said her son, Gene Rea, referencing the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Instead, those at the assisted living facility at 360 Button Ave. will celebrate Juanita Rea’s special day with a social-distancing event consisting of residents meeting up in the yard and a drive-by gathering for any well-wishers.
She was born Juanita Pearl Brumley on July 12, 1920 in Ada, Okla., and was No. 3 in the pecking order among 10 siblings.
The Brumley family moved westward, settling in Lathrop in 1933. “They moved here right before my mom finished grammar school,” Gene said on Tuesday.
She met Hosea Rea at her brother’s barbershop in French Camp. They were married in 1941 right before the U.S. involvement in World War II.
Her husband served his country, joining the Army Corp of Engineers and stationed in Japanese-occupied Philippines.
“It was two years before I met my father,” said Gene Rea, who lives in French Camp.
He’s the second of five children. Included are Ray Rea and Susie Valterza, both of Manteca; and Kathy Mendoza of French Camp. Jimmy Rea passed away in 2000.
The parents were married for 44 years with Hosea — he worked as a guard at the nearby Sharpe Army Depot and helped build the old Sixth Street Grocery some two blocks near Lathrop Road — passing away in 1985.
Juanita Rea is still known for her cooking.
“She made great pies — chocolate, berry and apple,” said Gene Rea, reeling off his favorite pies.
She also worked as a cook in Manteca.
“My mother loved taking care her brothers and sisters,” Gene said.
The only surviving member is her sister, Joyce Dean Gatto. She’s the wife of Bennie Gatto, who is the former mayor and councilman for the City of Lathrop.
Juanita Rae is the matriarch of a family that now spans five generations. Included are grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren.
How many altogether?
“If I had to guess, I would say it’s close to 50,” Gene said.