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January 5, 1933 ~ September 17, 2022 (age 89) 89 Years Old
Jesse or Jess Lara - also known as “Chewie” by some - was born on January 5th in 1933 to
parents Ignacio and Mary Lara in Madera, CA. Jess celebrated 89 birthdays before he went to be
with our Lord on September 17th, 2022.
He will be greatly missed by his wife of 67 years, Connie, his children Michael (Julie) Lara, Rosanne (Brian) Gutkn echt, John Lara, and Claire(Clint) Collins; his 10 grandchildren Lauren, Brenna, Kelli, Rebekah, Haley, Erin, Jacob, Abigail, Reese, and Chase; and 6 great grandchildren Avery, Easton, Dallas Rose, Cora, Tanner,
River with two additional great grandchildren on the way. He also leaves behind his brothers Joe, Charlie, and Ed Lara and numerous nieces and nephews.
Jess proudly served 4 years in the Marines including a 13-month tour in Korea before he was
honorably discharged in 1957 and earning three service medals. He had previously gone to
Madera High School where his future wife, Connie Franco, immediately noticed the cute and
quiet Jess. After dropping out at the beginning of his sophomore year to help on his family’s
raisin ranch, Jesse and Connie met again a few years later at Riperton Market where Connie was
working. After many Saturdays of stopping to get gas, Jess “finally” asked Connie out to the
movies. The two married in 1954 and they began their lives together in Mare Island, Vallejo, CA
before moving to Madera, CA.
Jess worked many jobs; one of his favorites was at Franco’s Nursery where he learned the art of
horticulture, a skill that he incorporated into his everyday life and became one of the many
talents he was best known for. He was most proud of his time working for CalTrans where he
spent 25 years.
Jesse had an affinity for trying and learning new things. His interests varied from working on his
family’s ranch, Lara & Sons, with raisin grapes and tending to his own yard, to playing tennis
and flying remote control airplanes. He even rebuilt a 1929 Ford Model A, piece by piece. One
of his most recent hobbies was making canes from tree limbs. He then turned his attention to
Bonsai trees, maintaining several including one bearing Pomegranates.
While Jess was a man of few words and occasionally known as a grouch, he was truly a
kindhearted man and would go out of his way to do kind acts for those he cared about. He
showed his love through his cooking and teaching. He’d make you your favorite dish; show up to
help you fix that thing; and show you (read: yell at you) the correct way to pick oranges.
He was proud of and loved his family. He loved his yard, plants, and fruit trees and even while in
the hospital would give direction on their care. His family will miss hearing his whistling while
he tinkered in his yard or garage.
Our father will be missed but we are comforted knowing he is with our Lord and at peace. An
honor service for Jess will be held on October 4th at 10am at Jay’s Chapel. A celebration of
Jess’s life will follow at San Joaquin Winery directly after until 2:30pm.
Tuesday October 4, 2022 10:00 AM Jay Chapel 1121 Roberts Ave Madera, CA 93637