Ethel Bellas, 80, was born on Oct. 26, 1940 and left this earth on Feb. 25, 2021.
Ethel spent her entire childhood in Lone Pine, until she moved to the city. While in school, Ethel was in charge of planning school dances and participated in the school band. After graduating from Lone Pine High School in 1959, Ethel moved to Bakersfield to pursue her education at Bakersfield College — she also played the clarinet in the college band. She later finished her college education at Los Angeles Trade Technical College in 1988.
After moving to Los Angeles, Ethel worked various positions, such as a clerk typist with United California Bank, a part-time secretary for Sears Savings Bank, an intermediate typist for the Los Angeles Probation Department, and a clerk in the booking department for the Los Angeles Sheriff Department.
At one point in Ethel’s career, while serving as a first-class petty officer in the United States Naval Reserve, she decided to join the United States Navy. While in the Navy, Ethel served as a recruiter, and later transferred to be a top-secret clearance secretary in the Pentagon, as well as being stationed at other various locations throughout her Navy career. Ethel often said she was one of the first female Native American recruiters, to recruit more females into the Navy.
Throughout the Native community, everyone knew or called Ethel, “Auntie” — she was everyone’s Auntie.
Ethel and her sister, Marie would often be seen in the Indian Day parade in Bishop and the Lone Pine Film Festival parade in traditional Native American regalia. Ethel was also a participant in the Rose Parade and rode with the late Iron Eyes Cody, while also working to help establish an Indian Health Clinic in Southern California. She would often encourage young Native people to pursue a college degree, join the military, or to simply not waste their life on drugs or alcohol.
Ethel often reminisced about her childhood in Lone Pine, her Navy career as a recruiter and a secretary in the Pentagon, and the various people she met throughout her lifetime. Ethel was very passionate about engaging in intelligent conversations and was very observant about what was happening in the world.
For those who knew Ethel well, found her to have a great sense of humor, kind words of encouragement, a generous and giving heart, as well as attending or hosting family dinners anytime of the year. Whenever someone called Ethel on the phone, they would often hear a cheerful and bright voice answer on the other line, such as “Hello!” or “What’s up girl!” if a niece, nephew or family member called to check up on her.
Ethel’s family knew her as being very patriotic, her love for travel, as well as reading and learning about new things — she was also a lady of class, dignity, punctuality, and had a great sense of style. She often painted a clear picture of the Native American family tree through various stories and experiences within the Bellas family and other relatives spread throughout California.
Ethel is survived by siblings, brother Leonard, and his wife Alice, and their daughter, Bonnie Holowachuk and her husband, Tim Smith; her sister Marie and her daughter, Julie (niece) and her husband, Michael Maddux (nephew in-law) and their daughters, Melissa and Lisa (great nieces of Ethel); daughter, Cathy (niece) and her daughter Kristen (great niece); and son, Louis Leonard Espinosa (nephew). Ethel is also survived by various nieces, nephews, and cousins, including niece, Virginia Rubio, and her son, Gilbert (great nephew), and daughters, Virgie and Priscilla (great nieces), and Virginia’s grandchildren, Selena, Octavio and Valentino.
Ethel is preceded in death by her parents, Ned and Molley Bellas; brothers Charlie, Ned Jr., Kenny; and sister Lucille. Ethel Bellas, Paiute and Shoshone, was a member of the Lone Pine Paiute-Shoshone Reservation, where she also lived and resided.
Funeral services for Ethel Bellas will be held on March 17, at the Mount Whitney Cemetery in Lone Pine, California, at approximately 1 p.m. A private family viewing will be held from 6-7 p.m. on March 16, at the Mount Whitney Mortuary in Lone Pine, California. The family of Ethel Bellas is currently raising funds for funeral expenses at a GoFundMe page.
This obituary was submitted by Melissa Maddux.