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Coworkers of Claudia Valenzuela, Susan Martinez, left, and Kim Blum, right, recall fond memories of working with Claudia.
REDLANDS - Claudia and Jonathan Valenzuela died in a deadly car crash on a dark Saturday evening while on their way to visit family in Mexico.

But while the mother and son lost their lives after the Feb. 18 crash, they certainly weren't forgotten.

Those who knew 17-year-old Jonathan and 39-year-old Claudia best regarded them as two caring people who would offer to help friends and family at any given moment.

So with the legacy the Valenzuelas' left behind, it's no surprise that the community gathered together to honor their lives.

More than 200 people - many wearing purple in honor of Claudia's favorite color - attended a public memorial service for Claudia and Jonathan on Friday afternoon at the Memorial Chapel at the University of Redlands.

Though burial services were held Feb. 28 in Mexicali, Claudia's University of Redlands coworkers organized the memorial service to pay respects to their friend, who worked for the Bon Appetit food service department on campus for more than 15 years.

Co-workers Kim Blum and Susan Martinez spoke during the memorial service recalling fond memories of Claudia.

"At Bon Appetit we lost a real special lady," Martinez said. "She will be so missed and we lost a great friend."

Blum went on to describe Claudia as a hardworking, loving person, and was well-loved within the university's community.

"The campus loved Claudia," she said. "As soon as the word got out out about her passing, everyone came together to tribute and to celebrate the life that she lived. She was loved by so many students, faculty and staff."

Co-workers and family of the Valenzuela's spoke during the hour-long service.

Even though Claudia and Jonathan were buried in Mexico, Rebecca Valenzuela said more than 100 people traveled down to Mexicali for the services.

"So many people went to the funeral who didn't even live in Mexico," she said. "I couldn't believe it."

Valenzuela, who is Jonathan's cousin, was touched with the community's outpouring love and support for the family during the family's time mourning.

"The family didn't have to worry about a single thing the entire time," she said. "I never would have expected so much support, but it shows just how much everyone loves my aunt and cousin."


Reach Rachel via email, call her at 909-521-8123, or find her on Twitter @Rache1Luna, and Facebook.