Bertha Nina Furlano had a tremendous sense of humor. That’s how she put up with me. (I was sort of the Eddie Haskell of the neighborhood). Last time I was in this Mission Church it was for the funeral mass of Bertha’s  husband, Luke Furlano. (I think Jamie spoke) Afterward, in the back of this church, I told Bertha what a wonderful service it was, and she said, “I was hoping you’d say something.” So here I am today, because she’d kill me if I didn’t Speak up. 

I’d also be remiss in not pointing out that since I was last here, Father Serra has been canonized. So now Bertha will join Saint Serra as well as her husband Luke in heaven. I wonder if she’ll finally talk to Bill Butler. Bill proved that Bertha was a good judge of character. 


By the way I never got used to calling her Bertha, having known her almost all my life. She was always Mrs. Furlano to me. I mean, when you’re 10 years old, sitting on your bicycle and talking to your friend’s Mom and Dad, you don’t call out,

“Hey Luke and Bertha, how’s it going?

She was born in Los Angeles in 1921,and she was married to Luke Furlano for  65 years. When I met the Furlanos in the 50s, they lived on Willis Ave in Van Nuys. My family lived on Vose St, about 3 blocks away.  Their household consisted of Mr. & Mrs. Furlano, Tonie and Kenny, and their grandparents Papa Fausto and Nani Gaxiola. They lived in very small Van Nuys house, but the family atmosphere was the closest of anyone I’ve ever known.

In the last few years she lived in Sylmar where she was fortunate enough to be a close neighbor to her sister  Blanca and her daughter Tonie Ann. Then a fire forced her and her sister to move to Porter Ranch, then finally to Tonie Ann’s.


She leaves behind her sister Blanca Villarino, who turned  97 Christmas day

Daughter Tonie

Grandson Jason (Chile)

Her Son Ken (Kenny to his lifelong friends)

Kenny and Sandy’s daughters Nicole and Monique,

son Fletcher, and of course son Jamie the leader of the pack.

She had 5 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren who will all miss her warmth and love. If I left anyone out, she never did.

I would also like to mention and thank Bertha’s niece Gemma, who spent much time caring for Bertha in her final year.

Tom Campbell wants me to say something on his behalf. He says:

"We were all blessed to grow up with great mothers who balanced raising kids, taking care of the house, shopping, and getting us there on time, whether it was school or a little league game. Some moms, like Bertha, did all this while balancing a job outside the home. (Anybody remember Hazeltine Avenue School?). And let’s not forget her chocolate chip cookies.  I never saw her angry or heard her utter a cross word. Bertha was a very sweet lady who put her children first, and genuinely cared about their friends."

       Thanks, Tom.That last line rings true for all of us. When I sit around with  friends and talk of our Van Nuys childhoods, one thing Dennis brings up is in spite of being kids, how much respect we were given by our friends’ parents.  They didn’t just give us stuff, they gave us time and attention.  Bertha had that kind of respect for Kenny and Tonie’s friends. 

I know that this is necessarily a sad day. But she wouldn’t have thought it so sad. She was a happy camper up to the end. I heard she was singing “Ol’ Man River” on her way out the door. She will always stand as a role model for good family and long healthy Life.

My wife Veda and I were lucky enough to host Bertha, Kenny, Tonie and Gemma at our home in Ventura just a few months ago. She was just as sharp as ever. And what a Dodger fan!

We were all sorry to see her go in December at the age of 94.

But I think that’s really the way to go out, on top of things and surrounded by family. The older I get, the more I have come to envy her life, and her peaceful exit. And let’s not ever forget her chocolate chip cookies! 

I’ll always have fond memories of growing up in Van Nuys, with bright blue skies, red hibiscus, the Crystal Plunge swimming pool, and knowing the most tightly knit family in the San Fernando Valley, the Furlano’s. So long Mrs. Furlano. You left a great legacy and a fantastic family.