Kathleen Caldarella

August 22, 1925June 28, 2020

Kathleen Riley Caldarella, beloved mother and grandmother, great grandmother, sister and aunt, died June 28, 2020, peacefully and in the company of her daughter Nancy and husband Keith, with whom she lived. Kathleen was born the sixth of nine children, August 22, 1925, in San Diego, California, to Peter and Mary Riley. She graduated from San Diego High School and later married Carl Nelsen, in 1946. They had four children. He preceded her in death. She married Antonio Caldarella, in 1973 and he also preceded her in death in 2008. Our mother was a gourmet cook to the delight of all who came to her table. She loved her garden of beautiful flowers and fruit trees and all the birds that came to her yard. Her greatest passion was quilt making and there was no joy so great than to gift one of her beautiful creations to family and friends! She continue to quilt until the last week of her life. Kathleen is survived by her children; Linda (husband Larry), Michael (wife Elisabetta), Nancy (husband Keith) and David. She is also survived by her brother Robert and his dear wife Susi, and her sister Hazel, ten grandchildren and eleven great grandchildren and many nieces and nephews who cherished her. Kathleen will be buried at El Camino Memorial Park on July 14, 2020, in a private service. A wake will follow when Covid-19 restrictions permit. Rest In Peace, dearest Momma Dear, always dear to our hearts. In lieu of flowers, a donation in Kathleen’s name can be made to Hospice of the Valleys.


No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


Kathleen Caldarella

have a memory or condolence to add?

Elisabetta Nelsen

July 11, 2020

I have a vivid memory of Kathleen when I met her for the first time in 1977, my first visit to California and to Alpine, the first person of Michael's family: his mother. Since then she was always present in our lives so now it's hard and sad to think that she is not with us any longer: point of reference for everybody in the family, caring mother and charming and intelligent woman.
She helped me with the children when I had to leave for my mother's funeral, so I miss her - I cannot call her as I used to and when we will go to Southern California she will not be there. When we lose our mother, it does not matter how old she is, the world seems unsafe because we can't turn to her anymore and our life is not the same. I will always remember you, Kathleen!

Matthew August

July 11, 2020

Dearest Grandma, I don't have the proper words to adequately express my thoughts and feelings for you. I will always remember your stories, green thumb, love for nature, humility, kindness and strength. Throughout your life you always found a way to serve others, whether through quilting or sharing gifts of fruit from your garden to your local neighbors and civil servants. Your memory will live forever among those you have touched. I will do my best to honor you, strive to be a better person, and leave this world a bit better like you did. With much love: Matt

Susi King

July 10, 2020

I always felt that Kathleen adopted me as one of her daughters. She was always so sweet to me. I loved our long chats about Quilting. When I had a chance to visit her she would always take me into her quilting room and show me all of her quilt projects. I was always in awe seeing the beautiful quilts she had just finished or ones that were in progress. She loved giving me patterns and fabric to include me in her amazing talent of her creations. Attached is the blanket that Kathleen made for me and I will treasure it forever.
All my Love,

Michael Nelsen

July 9, 2020

(Part 1)

Kids —
Way back in those early years, you - an almost single mom - kept it all together…
transferring here, relocating there, forced to set up shop who knows where…
new home new school new worlds far from the last, once again uprooted, four kids’ lives swept into a whirlwind flying past…
but you kept it all together, our Momma Dear.
You Were Always There…

Youngsters —
Ours a military family, on the outer edge of society -here one day, the next gone away, with no choice but to obey…
every day on a bus to get around - nothing ever close to us, but far off in town…
schools & sports, activities and more - if when needing a friend, our place too far to call at our door…
Military brats they say - but brats we weren't … instead, well-groomed, well-mannered and sound - with your purpose so earnest our comfort was found…
through thick & thin, organized and sane, your hard work and focus not in vain…
opinions and advice, your best was how to be nice.
You Were Always There …

...continued on the next page...

Michael Nelsen

July 9, 2020

(Part 2)

Grown-Ups —
Once gone off to school, up the coast or halfway ‘round the world, we remembered your way to make friends, and smile - kindness did go a mile…
with new faces & places to see - language, culture & customs shaping our lives - we always thought about you and our roots Riley - of which you were always the Star shining so brightly …
then for years up to Alpine, where a Kathleen world we did find…a few days would do, to recharge our love for you, and carry us onto the next time.
You Were Always There …

Families —
Now all having kids of our own, we’re so grateful for your love, and how well we were grown!
a great environ wherever you went…some with gardens, all with quilts…the great Kathleen cooking for sure heaven sent!
You Were Always There …

Here and Now —
Mom, even now your presence is near - your conversations with memories so clear, opinions to hear, your humor so dear…and yes, occasional practical jokes to fear! … that’s you Mom, our beloved Momma Dear.
In all different places, you’ve been our inspiration - made of your love, stubborn resolve and heartfelt creations…
In good times and bad, sickness and health, hard times and wealth - our guardian angel you ARE, our very special Star!
Now and forever so dear, inside our hearts
you’ll always be HERE…

With all our love —
Linda, Michael, Nancy & David

Keith August

July 9, 2020

A Farewell Letter

Dearest Mom,
I have many great memories of these last three months living with you. You greeted me with a warm smile and a "good morning dear!" every single day. Some breakfast and a good strong cup of coffee together seemed to start things off just right for both of our days. At lunch time you always had this funny little laugh whenever you saw how much or what I was eating. We always had time to share an afternoon movie. We would guess all the old actors' names, which you were pretty good at! Maybe it was because you had seen those same movies a million times! I always marveled at your recall ability. It was so sharp, just like when you recorded the Story Corps interview with Matthew. It seemed as though you were quite comfortable to be with us, as we were with you. Please know you were never a problem, it was never a hassle, and you were never a burden. Our time together was just the opposite. You enriched our lives with love and kindness. The bond between me and Nancy is stronger because of all we experienced with you. I will try to use the lessons of love and devotion you taught us as often as I can.
Thank you for being a real Mom to me.
Love always,

Katie Gulewich

July 8, 2020

Dear Grandma,

I have been thinking about you quite a bit lately. Peter and I were remembering our visits to your house in Alpine when we were young. I’m not sure if anyone knew what exactly we were up to, but we used to “drive” the Radio Flyer wagon around your backyard. We would take turns pushing and steering until one of us fell out. What was super fun about the pushing part was trying to make the other one fall out or tip over. So, we used to go up and down the fruit tree “hills” and head towards the rocks so that we could have a chance to “drive”.
I have so many lovely memories of your house in Alpine. I loved the smell of the handmade soap in your bathrooms. I loved all of the old clocks and the beautiful lamps. I always loved when I got to go to the back bedroom and see your newest project that you were working on. I have always thought your design-work was fabulous! The way that you match colors and patterns… I have always been envious of it! I loved how cool it was in the back bedrooms and always very quiet as well...except for the lovely birds. I loved how you always snuck us kids a coin pouch before we’d go home (we’d always compare our treasures). I loved how Mom always knew where the mini chocolates were hidden and how there would be a little something sweet for me too. I was always nervous to wash your dishes because they were so nice. I never wanted to drop them, but I did love to help out. I loved the smell of your yard on a warm day and I always loved to visit the horse in the neighbor’s backyard. I always felt a little scared to go into your root cellar - but I was very curious as to what was down there.

I have so many wonderful memories of my beautiful, kind, loving Grandma! I just thought I would share a few of them with you today.

I love you with all my heart! I am so lucky to be named after such a wonderful woman. You are, and always will be, dear to my heart.

I love you,


Larry Hoffman

July 8, 2020

Mother's Day 2020

Hello Momma Dear,

Here it is, another Mother's Day. This being your 72nd. How remarkable is that? It makes me recall the times of visiting Alpine, of being served like royalty and pampered us with your great hospitality and fine home cooking.

Also, a vivid memory of sharing stories and recipes around the stove. OH! "The Bruscioli's"! The pasta, roast beef and turkey dinners. What a spread. What fun. All gathered around that massive dining room table. We still rely on your recipes at home. Especially the BBQ sauce and the chili.

I recall the suitcases of lemons and grapefruits we would bring home from our visits and of course, your gardens full of fruit and vegetables. Master gardeners, you were. Those were very good days.

I am also reminded of seeing you every morning at the office when I worked for the Caldarella Operation. That business would never have been the success it was without you at the helm. What a legacy you built.

Now, times have changed. We are older and moving a little slower. Less hurrying and more appreciation of all that surrounds us. I am glad that you are settling in with Keith and Nancy. There are few people like them that can and will support us older folks. We are truly proud of them. And, you are fortunate to have the grandchildren and great grandchildren about you as well.

So, Mom, I wish we could be with you on Sunday and enjoy the festivities of your day. We will be thinking of and missing you. Thank you for being a friend, companion, mentor and Mother to me.

God blessed me with you and I know He blessed you with your children, with giving you all the makings of motherhood. Thank you for having me in your family.

I love you Momma Dear.


Now today, I say goodbye, God bless and rest in peace.

Mary Brooks

July 6, 2020

I remember the first day Linda came to Our Lady of Lourdes. She arrived in February when we were both twelve. She walked into the class, wearing a white sweater and grey pleated skirt, bobby socks, saddle shoes, and light brown winged glasses. Sister Miriam Catherine introduced her and said that her family had just moved from Riverside, CA. OK, but could she kick a ball? At the first recess she was approved as a real player; we were all glad for that. She quickly joined in. She could sell raffle tickets with the best of us, sing in the choir, and play the piano.
What I didn’t yet know those first days was how much we would be with each other. What this meant for me was all the ways in which I joined your family. I remember being at your house many times the night before skiing (taking the base bus to Chewelah). On one particular Friday, we went in the side door by the kitchen. Right away I could smell the taco sauce simmering on the stove. It wasn’t exactly red; it was more like a dark maroon with a sting of heat. And there, at your home, I was introduced to tacos. What a great delight. There was also your spaghetti sauce recipe, which I still have. The one with about a handful of oregano. You became my cooking model, and I learned to use herbs and spices.
Linda and I loved to play baseball. I was short-stop, she was first base, and you were the coach. We tried to play serious ball. We didn’t have many official practices , but you made sure we played other Catholic schools in the league competition. Were we hugely triumphant? What still comes to mind now is the elation of every game as we were riding back home, all packed into coach Kathleen’s station wagon.
Years later, Mark and I took your lap quilts to Japan with us. On those nights when the winds blew from the Inland Sea, we tucked into those quilts reading or watching awful American crime episodes. Your wonderful quilts provided welcome warmth for this pair of teacher-travelers. Thank you, Kathleen


Easter at Peter & Toby Jackson


Alpine with Billy Riley & Nicole