Cecilia was born to Luis and Esther Castro on Oct. 31, 1950 at Martinez Community Hospital in Martinez. The second eldest of 11 children, Cecilia was raised in Martinez and attended St. Catherine of Siena School. She had many fond memories of the years she spent at St. Catherine’s as a parishioner and student.
She attended Alhambra High School, graduating in 1968. Following graduation, she enrolled at Diablo Valley College, where she also worked as a secretary for the Electronics Department. It was there that she met Ed Valenzuela in 1969. They married on May 20, 1972 at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Martinez. Cecilia wore her mother’s wedding dress and later passed on that same dress to her daughter, Diana, who married in 1999.
Seeking a new home for their growing family, Cecilia and Ed moved to Brentwood in 1979. She dedicated her life to raising her four children in the home her husband built for her.
Cecilia was an active parishioner at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church for 33 years. She taught religious education classes for several years. She loved and attended the Traditional Latin Mass. She was passionately pro-life, and co-founded a crisis pregnancy center in Brentwood to provide support for women in need to help them choose life for their babies.
Cecilia was also a great supporter of the U.S. military, having two sons who served in the Marine Corps. Following the ﬁrst war in Iraq in 1991, Cecilia co-organized Operation Hometown Salute, a Brentwood homecoming to honor local veterans of Operation Desert Storm.
Cecilia worked as an instructional aide for the Brentwood Union School District for 15 years. She was the family historian and loved photographing anything related to her family. She enjoyed gardening, canning, reading to learn more about her faith and spending time with her young grandchildren.
Cecilia was preceded in death by her parents, Luis and Esther Castro; brothers, John and Danny Castro; and sister, Cynthia Maldonado. She is survived by her husband, Ed; children, Diana Howard (Wes) of San Jose, Adrian Valenzuela of Martinez, and John and Matthew Valenzuela of Brentwood; grandchildren, Canon Valenzuela, and Rebecca, Aaron, Alyssa, and Micayla Howard. She is also survived by her brothers, Leonard, Joseph, Timothy and Philip Castro; and sisters, Rita Cordova, Linda Castro, and Brenda Ponce.
Friends and family are invited to attend a vigil on Sunday, July 1 at 7 p.m. and Requiem Mass of the Traditional Roman Rite on Monday, July 2 at 11 a.m. in Immaculate Heart of Mary Church. Burial will follow at Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Lafayette. Following burial, all are welcome to attend the reception at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church parish hall.