Commentary: I miss and remember my 'Mimi'

My grandmother, Joanne Ruth "Mimi" Mulder, was born Nov. 6, 1936, in Seattle. She spent a short while in Yakima, where her grandparents, Ruth and Wheeler Warren, ran one of the first Washington apple-packing companies.

Soon after, she moved to sunny California and was raised in South Pasadena. Her beauty was discovered at 15, when she was chosen as a Jonathan Logan contestant winner, whereupon she flew to Paris for two weeks with her mother, Marjorie Warren Mulder. She was nominated and crowned a Rose Princess in the Rose Parade's 1954 Court.

She attended Pasadena City College and transferred to UCLA, where she was affiliated with the Gamma Phi Beta Sorority, leaving a legacy with daughter Katie Ogden (San Diego State), my sister, Karly Ogden, and me (both of us went to the University of San Diego). Mimi received her teaching credential from UCLA and taught at the elementary level in Tustin for 32 years.

She met her husband, Gene York, while frolicking on the shores of Big Corona in Corona del Mar. They married when she was 21 and had two children, Dan York and Katie. Her children knew they were uncommonly lucky to have been blessed with her as their mom.

Qualities that people admired about Mimi included her wonderful sense of humor, her infectious laugh and her love of children and family. She was authentic to the core and had an inexhaustible joy for her grandchildren: Brent Ogden, Karly and me, and Bryan and Shannon York. She provided constant support without judgment and will be treasured for the countless compassionate chats we all shared.

Her magnetic personality cast a wide net; no one who ever met her would forget her. She knew no stranger; she was incomparable.

She was first diagnosed with ovarian cancer in early 2003. During her 18-month battle with the disease, you would find her dining at the local Coco's, Ruby's or Mimi's Café. They her favorite restaurants and she was among the most popular clients with the servers because of her laugh and heavy tipping. They would instantly recognize her and fight over where she should sit. She always got the biggest kick out of that.

Mimi, who died July 28, 2004, is happily with God, and we rejoice knowing we will see her again one day. She spread a fragrance of blessing wherever she went and left a loving imprint on those who knew her. We will continue to cherish her memory on a daily basis and think of all the ways she would make us laugh and smile. She was the definition of the most loving mother, grandmother, sister and friend. The world truly is a better place for Mimi having been here.

She lived life to the fullest. She is a constant reminder that laughter is the best medicine and love holds the world together. We will never forget our precious Mimi, who would have turned 76 today.

We love you, Mimi, and you are forever in our hearts.

BREE OGDEN lives in Newport Beach.

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