Mary Melva (Olivares) Willow, our beloved wife, mother, grandmother, sister and friend, was called home to be with her heavenly Father on September 21, 2020, at the age of 67.
Melva was born December 17, 1952, to Paul P. and Laura Garcia Olivares. She was born and raised in Beeville as a child and attended the local schools until she graduated from A.C. Jones High School.
In 1977, Melva attended a local dance with friends where she met a persistent Navy sailor. After several denied requests, Melva decided to entertain the request of her suitor, Mike Willow. Not too soon after, Melva realized she had met the love of her life. On June 17, 1979, Michael Robert Willow and Mary Melva Olivares united in marriage and became “The Willows”.
As the Willows, the couple grew their family to include three sons, Michael, Paul and Richard Frank. Melva’s boys were the center of her universe, and there was not anything she would not do for them. She loved and cared for her sons as any boy mom would, provided guidance, tough love and a tender heart. As her sons grew, so did the Willow Family. Melva gained three daughters by love from her sons unions, Laryn, Sarah and Jenna, but of all the people who came into Melva’s life, her heart and soul belong to her precious grandchildren: Mikenna, Eric, Sawyer, Gunner, Paxton-Paul, Hayden and Everly. She spoiled her grandchildren the way grandchildren are meant to be spoiled, and they loved it and her. Whenever her grandchildren would leave her home, she made sure to bless their foreheads and said a prayer for protection and love.
Melva made history by becoming the first administrative assistant for the Bee County Juvenile Probation Department. Melva provided guidance, structure and care to so many probation officers during her time; it is impossible to count them all. One of Melva’s blessings was that she freely accepted you as one of her own children. She provided firm, yet enduring motherly love to all who worked with her. After 34 years of committed service to the department, Melva decided to retire and refused any recognition for her service. There was no way someone like Melva, who took pride in her work and gave herself completely to her job and her work family, could leave silently. In October 2012, after months of preparation, Melva was honored with a surprise retirement party! JPO’s from the present and past drove from Houston, San Antonio and the Valley to give their personal farewell wishes. As the weeks dwindled on, the department hired her replacement. Once she was confident her training was successful, she was ready to retire. Melva stopped answering the telephone so she could watch her novelas. Mike was kind enough to buy her ear phones so no one would interrupt her novela time. So many cherished memories were created with her. Melva learned so much from her work family, as many have learned from her. Thank you to Mike, Michael, Paul and Richard Frank for sharing your wife and mother. Melva was the matriarch to that department. Her time spent there will always be respected and treasured.
By no means was Melva’s retirement filled with novelas. Melva kept busy with her quilting, cooking for the church, going on shopping sprees at Walmart and Bealls and entertaining her family and friends. We all knew what to expect when we walked into one of Melva’s parties and saw that infamous salad bar! We know the treat bags or super hero capes were sewn with love. Her goody bags will be filled with baked goods like her Ranger cookies. Only Melva could make chicken spaghetti with no chicken and no one notice it. Melva continued her mother’s tradition of making Halloween a celebration filled with family, food and fun. Melva’s homemade chicken and potato salads were classics and always in high demand that she ensured to make enough for others to take home. Melva’s banana split and Big Red cakes are impeccable and unmatched.
Melva spent her time with Mike and their family. That was where she was the happiest and most at peace. Melva’s personality was witty, vibrant and her level of creativity will be dearly missed. Her kind heart and listening ear is what made her so special. If you were hurt or in pain, so was she. That is what made her “Melva”. She loved unconditionally and taught so many of us what the true meaning of that meant. Mike was her protector and she was ours.
How do we say goodbye to an incredible woman like Melva? A woman who embodied so many roles for so many people and made it look effortless? We don’t. Mary Melva Olivares Willow’s book of life has been written, but it is meant to be re-told over and over again through stories and memories. That is how to keep her spirit alive and her spirit will live within our hearts.
Melva has been reunited with her parents, Paul and Laura, in heaven along with several loved ones. Her time here was well spent, now, it was time for her to go home.
Those left to cherish her memory is her husband of 41 years, Michael Robert; sons, Michael (Laryn), Paul (Sarah) and Richard Frank (Jenna); her beloved grandchildren, Mikenna, Eric, Sawyer, Gunner, Paxton-Paul, Hayden and Everly; her fur baby, Pickles; brother, Paul Ralph (Debbie) Olivares; sister, Rachel Olivares; brother-in-law, William H. Willow; as well as numerous nieces, nephews, great-nieces and nephews, aunts, friends, family friends and friends who had become family.
A rosary was recited at 10 a.m. Thursday, September 24, at St. Joseph Catholic Church followed by the funeral Mass celebration at 10:30 a.m.
Pallbearers were Eidan Cano, Dustin Cano, Daniel Cano, Luis Alvarez, Derek Franco, and RA Flores.
Thank you Melva for your love, kindness and heart.