Pioneering Los Banos businesswoman June Erreca died Wednesday night. She was 92.
Erreca opened Los Banos Flowers in 1946, at a time when few women in Los Banos and nationwide did such a thing. She was 26 at the time.
Erreca's grandson, E.J., said the shop was designed to look like a home in case it didn't succeed. She purchased the land from her father-in-law.
"She wanted to build a flower shop and nursery, and they thought she was crazy," he said.
The flower shop still stands 67 years later on K Street.
"I was holding her hands last night," he said Thursday. "You could feel all the work in that woman's hands."
Erreca was born in her parents' home on J Street in Los Banos in 1921. She graduated from Westside Union High School in 1938 and married Emil Erreca in 1939. He died in 2001.
Gloria Spina remembered having a "beautiful childhood" with sister Erreca. Her personality made her successful in business, Spina said.
"Growing up, she was the leader. She was always the leader," Spina said.
Erreca started working as a florist from her home, and trained under a San Jose-based florist before opening Los Banos Flower Shop.
"She decided to go into business, because we needed a flower shop in Los Banos," Spina said, adding that Erreca loved flowers.
Erreca was a charter member of Soroptimist International of Los Banos, a group that advocates for women in business, when it started in 1962.
Sherry Pearson, owner of Pearson's Jewelers and a Soroptimist, called Erreca a pioneer and dedicated volunteer.
"If you talk to any member in our club, they will say that June was their idol," Pearson said. "She was a strong, courageous woman."
Soroptimists fondly referred to Erreca as the "Queen Mum."
Erreca held the Soroptimist governor's title for the Sierra-Pacific region, which stretches from Delano to Groveland and covers the Bay Area, from 1982 to 1984. She was also elected to the Soroptimist Federation Board, which is an international position.
E.J. Erreca said his gradparents were fans of the San Francisco 49ers, owning season tickets from 1946 to the mid-1990s. June Erreca also attended three Super Bowls.
"She was really proud about that," E.J. Erreca said.
In 2000, Erreca was named "Citizen of the Year" by the Merced County Board of Supervisors.
In 2011, Los Banos High School History Society inducted Erreca into its hall of fame, making her the second person to receive that recognition.
She was also a Milliken Museum board member and treasurer.
A visitation service is scheduled at 4:30 p.m. March 17 at Whitehurst Funeral Chapel, 1840 Center Ave., with a rosary at 7 p.m. A Mass is planned at 9 a.m. March 18 at St. Joseph's Catholic Church, 1621 Center Ave.
Burial will be at Los Banos Cemetery.
Enterprise reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 388-6562 or by email at tmiller@losbanos
Enterprise reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 388-6562 or by email at tmiller@losbanos enterprise.com.