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María “Matu” Jesus González
January 1, 1924 - November 18, 2023
María “Matu” Jesus González, 99, of Gaithersburg, MD passed away on November 18, 2023, surrounded by her family. Matu was born in Los Naranjos in Cojutepeque, Department of Cuscatlán, El Salvador in 1924. She was preceded in death by her parents, Dolores Mejía and Francisco González, and siblings, María Fortunata González, Santos Teodoro González, Eugenia González Mejía, Juan Antonio González, and María Higinia González.
Matu is survived by her four children, Herbert Calderon, Bertha (Tita) Ortiz, Gloria Martinez, and Theresa Arias; 10 grandchildren, Jose, Jeannine, Madeline, Frank, Silvia, Doug, Nancy, Alicia, Thomas, and Alex; and 12 great grandchildren, Anthony, Deborah, Justin, Kayla, Jeffrey, Natalie, Alyssa, Roberto, Lucas, Brandon, Mallory, and Amaya. She also leaves behind nieces and nephews whom she loved dearly.
Growing up in El Salvador, Matu worked incredibly hard to care for her parents, while also helping to maintain the household. She had a hunger for business and started a small café in Apulo at Lake Ilogpango, a tourist spot near the capital, where she sold beer, juice and Cóctel de Concha. Matu grew her business and started selling at Mercado La Tiendona, a larger outdoor market where she sold fruit, vegetables, grains and beans. From Cojutepeque, she would travel the hour on public transportation to make it to market in the early hours of the day. During this time, she persevered and worked even harder as she was a single mother of four.
Matu immigrated to the United States in 1986 during the Salvadoran Civil War. Her son and daughters moved to New York, and she went back and forth for a few years to settle her affairs. She lived in New York and took care of her grandchildren while her daughters worked for a better life in a new world. In 1992, Matu moved to Maryland to live with her youngest daughter, Theresa, to help care for her children.
Matu was a selfless and committed woman who took care of others before her own needs. She spent the later years of her life continuing to dedicate her time to family and care for her grandchildren in New York and Maryland. She loved to spend hours coloring and was passionate about Jesus Christ. She was a devout Catholic and would sing hymns and pray to the Lord for all of her blessings. She was extraordinarily social and loved to tell stories about her life as a little girl in El Salvador.
Matu was a sassy woman and to know her, was to fall in love with her. She had an impressively sharp wit and was always astute of her surroundings. In April 2014, she went on a Holy Land pilgrimage a few months after turning 90 years old. Matu traveled to Turkey, Israel, Italy and the Vatican City to witness the canonization of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXII. She visited the various holy sites in Israel, walked the Spice Bazaar in Istanbul, and climbed the La Scala Santa (Holy Stairs) in Rome on her knees. She celebrated her 95th birthday with a Mariachi band where she danced into the wee hours of the night.
The key to Matu’s long life was praying to the Lord for herself and the family. A little shot of tequila or glass of wine every now and again didn’t seem to hurt too. She would wait for her son-in-law, Tomas (Tito) Arias to come home so they could have a celebratory drink, tell stories and count their blessings. When Tito got sick and stopped working, they were two peas in a pod and would take care of each other. They protected each other and cared for one another. Matu and Tito passed within hours of each other on November 18, and they are now watching over their family and will forever be together in heaven.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in her memory may be sent to St. Martin of Tours Church, 201 S. Frederick Ave, Gaithersburg, MD 20877.
The family will receive friends at the Roy W. Barber Funeral Home, 21525 Laytonsville Road, Laytonsville, MD on November 26 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Friends may also visit on November 27 at St. John Neumann Catholic Church, 9000 Warfield Rd. Gaithersburg, MD 20882 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. The funeral Mass will start at 11 a.m., followed by interment at All Souls Cemetery, 11401 Brink Rd. Germantown, MD 20876.