Connie Q. Belmontes
Beloved mother and grandmother, avid sports fan
Connie Q. Belmontes, a longtime Claremont resident, died peacefully in her sleep at her daughter’s home in Upland on February 15, 2013. She was 69.
Ms. Belmontes was born in Sanger, California on January 23, 1944 to Henry and Hyacinth Quintanar, the oldest daughter among 12 children. Her given name, Consuelo, was shortened to Connie, which she would go by for the rest of her life. Her family moved south when Ms. Belmontes was 2, settling in Chino, which had become a thriving agricultural enclave.
As a young girl, Ms. Belmontes pitched in to help her family, picking crops and working at local dairy farms as well as helping to care for her younger siblings. By the time she was a teen, she was working as a fruit packer, boxing up oranges, lemons and grapefruit in the citrus industry that flourished throughout the region.
She had moved on to work as a sales associate at Kmart when she was set up on a blind date with a co-worker’s brother, Louie Belmontes. They fell in love and were married soon after. In 1969, Ms. Belmontes moved with her new husband to Claremont, where they lived for the next 36 years, raising 3 children and becoming active parishioners of Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church.
Ms. Belmontes worked for a number of years in a sewing shop. Later, as a homemaker, she took pride in sewing for her family. There are a number of photos featuring Ms. Belmontes and her daughters in matching homemade dresses, with her son in a shirt of her making. She also loved cooking, and was known for her savory tamales and delicious biscuits. Not long ago, she visited her great-granddaughter’s classroom, demonstrating for the students how to make homemade chicken soup.
Ms. Belmontes’ greatest loves were her family and her faith. She enjoyed spending time with her grandchildren and lending her soprano voice to the choir at OLA. Those were not her only enthusiasms, though. Ms. Belmontes loved music, from country tunes to opera to the retro crooning of Michael Bublé, and had tickets to see Barbara Streisand at the time of her death. She regularly tuned in to catch reruns of bandleader Lawrence Welk’s long-running TV show and once had the chance to take a photograph with Mr. Welk, a piece of memorabilia she cherished.
A huge fan of sports, Ms. Belmontes also delighted in heading to games to root for her beloved Lakers—particularly Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol—as well as the Dodgers, of whom Mike Piazza was her favorite. Ms. Belmontes sometimes boasted about another celebrity encounter, the time she met Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda.
Between their mother’s enthusiasm for athletics and the fact that Mr. Belmontes was a baseball coach, each of their kids participated in youth sports. Ms. Belmontes always made sure to be there at games, cheering them on.
“She was a fun-loving, bubbly, people person,” according to family.
Ms. Belmontes would be the first to admit she was a bit of a shop-aholic, but her purchases were most often made with others in mind. She regularly purchased socks and blankets to donate to homeless shelters or to the local dialysis center. She also bought countless gifts for her children and her grandchildren. They came to expect sports-themed presents, including Laker- and Dodger-themed items ranging from hats to visors to purses and wallets.
Ms. Belmontes also enjoyed quiet moments, knitting or crotcheting, writing in her daily journal, poring through books of sewing patterns and reading religious magazines.
“Every single day, she’d read about being Catholic. It meant so much to her,” Ms. Belmontes’ daughter Irene said.
She loved traveling with her husband, including trips to Washington, DC and country music haven Branson, Missouri, and was always involved in a new project. Shortly before her death, she went shopping to pick up some yarn for a blanket she planned to knit in the colors of the Virgin Mary to be raffled off by her church.
“She often did things like that. She was so into giving and helping people,” family said.
Ms. Belmontes’ final moments were in keeping with her life. She did some needlework, said her prayers and had laid down for a nap when her “golden heart” stopped beating, family shared.
Ms. Belmontes is survived by her mother, Hyacinth Quintanar of Chino; by her siblings, Ben, Frank, Lydia, Alice and Annie, all of Chino; by her children, Ralph Chiappone and Grace Silva, both of Chino, and Irene “Rena” Chiappone of Upland; by 8 grandchildren and by 9 great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband, Louie Belmontes, who died in 2005.