In the early evening of Sunday, June 25, 2017 at her Le Grand home, RoseAnn (Burkart) Serrano passed away due to complications of pancreatic cancer surrounded by family and friends. The daughter of the late Dr. Carl and Frances Burkart of Fresno, RoseAnn was 72 years old.
RoseAnn received her education from Fresno schools, attending Saint Therese School, graduating from San Joaquin Memorial High School with the Class of 1962 and earning her AA Degree in Liberal Studies from Fresno City College. She later went on to attend Fresno State College where she was a Music and History major. RoseAnn was actively involved in the Newman Club of the St. Paul Newman Center at Fresno State, including being elected as District Secretary for the Catholic college organization. It is at the St. Paul Newman Center where she met her future husband David Serrano and there on May 13, 1967 they were married with Father Sergio Negro presiding.
RoseAnn and David’s marriage of 50 years was a journey that led a “city girl” to become a farmer’s wife and to embrace the many challenges of agriculture. A true partnership, RoseAnn was an integral part of Serrano Farms, working side by side with David and the family. She irrigated, swept almonds, ran their huller, weeded cotton, hauled cotton trailers, sprayed, took care of the farm’s record books and payroll, all while being a full-time housewife and mother. It became so second nature that she even cut corn/cotton stalks while reading her favorite books. RoseAnn also managed to teach piano and catechism, which she had been teaching since her teenage years.
RoseAnn was hardly ever seen without a book. Along with reading about anything and everything via books, magazines and newspapers, she could retain knowledge like the best of them. One might say that she had a mind like an elephant. With that ability, she was the historian, whether it be her family’s, Dave’s family’s or her community’s, she was ready to share information when someone couldn’t quite remember a person’s name, date or event.
When RoseAnn came to Le Grand she immersed herself into her community as well as the surrounding communities of Chowchilla, Merced, Fresno, Mariposa, and Planada. Being involved with her children in their 4-H sheep projects eventually led to her own sheep raising enterprise. She always kept a summer and winter vegetable garden and began selling freshly picked Golden Sweet Apricots at the Merced Certified Farmers Market in the late 1990s. There she created a fixture for Serrano Farms at farmer’s markets throughout the area, also selling almonds, walnuts, figs, honey, jams, jellies and fresh produce.
RoseAnn loved to give and had great joy in it. One Christmas they decided that they were going to share their love of baking with their friends. Making anywhere from 8 to 13 types of cookies, all revolving around almonds, they spawned their annual Christmas cookie giveaway to all their friends and families. To this day, everyone waits to get their hands on their favorite cookie that David and RoseAnn made.
RoseAnn has served as a volunteer, member, vendor, manager, board member, and president of numerous organizations, such as Merced County Certified Farmer’s Market, Mariposa Certified Farmer’s Market, Madera Certified Farmer’s Market, California Women for Agriculture, USDA Farm Services Agency Committee, Le Grand Garden Club, Light Up Le Grand Committee, Plainsburg Elementary School Board, Our Lady of Lourdes Altar Society, Farm Bureau, National Federation of Independent Business, Plainsburg Parents’ Club, and Plainsburg Library. She enjoyed contributing to the welfare and improvement of her community, which is completely invaluable as a worthy model for all public-spirited people of the State.
She was a regular accompanist and choir singer at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church on Saturday night mass. She became the local go-to pianist/organist for local weddings and funerals and occasionally for Sunday worship at the Le Grand Methodist Church. She was actively involved with the Le Grand Community Day, Our Lady of Lourdes Parish Dinner, the Le Grand FFA Football Concession Stand, Plainsburg Election Board, Soroptimist International of Chowchilla, and enjoyed the comradery of the ladies of the “Red Hat Tomatoes” (Red Hat Society) group. RoseAnn also enjoyed saving lives she didn’t know by donating platelets and over 15 gallons of blood.
Over the years in her “spare time,” she kept busy with local fairs, chauffeuring her children’s friends to events and attending any and every function her children found interest in. Later in life, she also kept quite busy with bunco and birthday club. Attending a Basque Club event was always looked forward to, especially for the Picon that came with it. She was not only a woman of many hats, she found time to enjoy her own husband and kids, whether it be Thanksgiving at Disneyland, hosting a huge Fourth of July party every year at their almond huller or hosting her family reunion to keep it thriving.
RoseAnn’s activities did not go unnoticed, receiving numerous certificates of appreciation for her many activities. In 1994, she, along with Dave, were awarded the State of California Governor’s Small Business Award for Small Business Person of the Year. In 2008, she and her husband were recognized as Le Grand Community Day Citizens of the Year. In 2014, she was selected as a “Common Threads Honoree” honoring women in agriculture for her philanthropic endeavors and community service by California Agricultural Leadership Foundation, Ag One Foundation and Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology at California State University, Fresno. Also in 2014, she and Dave received the Merced County Outstanding Trees and Vines Award. Among these specific awards, she was also featured on KRON TV in San Francisco about the 80s Ag. Economy Collapse, being featured on a Cable TV show and numerous times in the local papers.
After raising her children, she opened her home, heart and car to many local kids who could benefit from her wisdom and guidance. Not only did she mentor the younger generation, she even mothered members of the older generation. RoseAnn’s love knew no bounds; it was endless and she always welcomed people into her life. This is the reason that she had an open/revolving door policy at her home, where family and friends were invited to grab a seat at her table and enjoy hours of conversation, laughs and her wonderful cooking and baking. There is a reason she was always the last to leave every function she would attend. She was a woman of conviction, strength and honor. A woman who was always willing to extend her hand in friendship and open her heart to the discerning needs of others, both in her family and community. Her persevering spirit inspired her family and countless others to excellence.
We love you Mom so much.
You will be missed every day.
We long for our reconnect.
We know God will take care of you in every way.
It’s only in Serrano fashion,
To have a poem written by your son.
We know you will always be with us,
Watching over everyone.
Left to cherish RoseAnn’s memory are her husband David Serrano of Le Grand, and her children, Christine Serrano of Le Grand, Danielle Serrano of Chowchilla, Matthew Serrano and his wife Kimberly of Woodside, CA, and Michael Serrano and his wife Erika of Le Grand. RoseAnn also leaves sisters Kathy (Robyn) Gaffney of Big River, CA, and Carla Clark of Fresno, as well as grandchildren Isabela, William and Catalina Serrano.
Visitation will be on Wednesday, July 12, 2017 from 4:30 to 6:30 PM at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Le Grand with recitation of the rosary following at 6:30 PM. Funeral mass will be celebrated on Thursday, July 13, 2017 at 10 AM at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church with interment following at Plainsburg Cemetery. Some might wonder why the thirteenth. It is a very special date for our family with numerous birthdays, anniversaries and special occasions all revolving around that day. David’s dad, Florencio Serrano, was born on July 13th and RoseAnn and he were the best of friends. So we honored them both by allowing them to share such a special day.
RoseAnn’s family would appreciate donations in her memory be made to Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church Building Fund, 14075 E. Le Grand Road, Le Grand, CA 95333 or The Carole Stinson Literacy Foundation, P.O. Box 65, Menlo Park, CA, 94026-0065.
Condolence messages may be left at www.jaychapel.com