Tamara Marie Gutierrez passed away peacefully on February 26, 2019, at the age of 72 years. She is survived by her devoted husband of 48 years, Efren Gutierrez, and was the loving mother of Mara Tatiana Gutierrez of San Francisco and Efren Alexei Gutierrez, Jr of Berkeley. She is also survived by her sisters Martha Guzman (Pedro) of West Sacramento, Alexandria Davis (Larry) of Elk Grove; and her husband’s immediate family, Gracie (Rich) Gutierrez-Santerelli, Ascension (Nancy) Gutierrez, Nick (Bernadette) Gutierrez, Eddie (Tonia) Gutierrez, and Gilbert (Flor) Gutierrez, all residing in the Sacramento region, and many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents Rose Ryia Verasoff Robbins, James H. Robbins (stepfather). and George Allen Thompson (father) and Lonnie Allen Thompson (brother).
Tamara’s grandparents (Alexei and Marie Verasoff) were some of the first Russian immigrant residents of Bryte. They were founders of the Holy Myrrhbearing Women Orthodox Church in Bryte, built in 1925-26. Her fondness for her grandparents showed through her involvement working at their gas station and spent some high school years living with them. This is when she picked up her ear for languages as she became fluent in Russian, and later in life Spanish while spending time with her in laws, Lola and Ascension Gutierrez.
One of her passions, cooking started in her youth, while spending time with her Mother and siblings exploring farms of the Sacramento Valley. As a child, Tamara lived in Bryte, CA with her mother Rose and her siblings Lonnie, Martha and Allie. Tamara had a maternal instinct as a young girl and enjoyed spending time with her family, playing baseball with her brother and aunts/cousins, who included her on many family vacations to such locales as Hearst Castle and Yosemite.
Tamara attended James Marshall High School in West Sacramento where she not only was stylish but also athletic. She enjoyed field hockey, softball, soccer and music. Her favorite genres were Motown and R&B. One story she loved telling was when she would go to the Coconut Grove to see bands such as Ike And Tina Turner and including Ike-ettes before they were famous.
Tamara and Efren first met during their teen years. Efren affectionately describes the first time he noticed her. She was walking to the corner store in her white t-shirt, 501s and Ked tennis shoes. Her unique and classic style defined her throughout her life. Her friends and family always commented on this. She had a great aesthetic sense when it came to design and fashion, which influenced others.
Shortly after graduation she started dating her husband Efren. To get Efren’s attention, she asked him to help her repair her 1959 Mercedes 220 so she could spend time with him who also had a passion for cars with a 1964 Corvette. Her love for Mercedes followed her the rest of her life.
Tamara was drawn to the City life of San Francisco, where she lived in Nob Hill and worked for the Southern Pacific, as an Administrative Assistant. While she lived in San Francisco, Efren, lived in Berkeley completing his BA in Architecture at the University of California at Berkeley.
After Efren graduated, the couple married. They moved to Cambridge, MA in 1970 so that Efren could complete his Masters in Architecture at Harvard University. Tamara quickly acquired a job at the University with the Latin American Studies Department, helping to recruit students. This job suited her since she was adept at learning languages and had great social skills. Eventually, the harsh winters of the East Coast and missing their family, drew them back to California and they relocated to Berkeley.
Tamara enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in Conservation and Natural Resources. As part of her studies she wanted to learn about the culture of the Pomo Indians. She started taking basket weaving classes from the famous Northern California Pomo basket weaver, Elsie Allen. As a result of the classes, Tamara accumulated a significant collection of Pomo baskets. Art and culture were of interest to her. She was drawn to Native and Folk Art of Mexico and Latin America. Her home was filled with these artifacts which she began to collect during her frequent trips to Mexico with Efren’s family. This lead her down the path of pottery and crafts, as it related to this type of art.
Shortly after she completed her degree, the young couple started their family. They enjoyed the earthly, organic atmosphere of Berkeley but decided to move to Orinda in 1984 for an area more suited to raise their two children.
Tamara loved Berkeley and never broke her ties with the City. Her and Efren owned two apartment buildings that she managed, along with helping Efren grow his architectural practice as his office manager. Most weekends were spent in Berkeley shopping to the needs of her family. Her favorite stores included Berkeley Bowl, Monterey Market, Monterey Fish and Market Hall.
She was passionate about cooking, which she learned from her mother. She was a very social person who loved to spend time with her family and friends. Cooking brought everyone together, which she cherished. She once met Julia Child at a book signing in Berkeley. Nearly every weekend Tamara loved to learn about cooking and enjoyed watching cooking shows. She spent many birthdays going to Yountville to eat at the latest restaurants such as The French Laundry and TraVigne, where she met her favorite chefs who included Jeremiah Tower, Thomas Keller and Michael Chiarello.
Her dedication as a Mother took precedence and she reveled in her role. Manners and presentation of her home and her children were very important to her. During her children’s elementary school years, she always volunteered in activities including field trips and sporting events. Her favorite was Indian days as she knew more about the history than the teachers.
Tamara loved the natural environment. Her home in Orinda is located on two acres with Oak and pine trees. It is also home to lots of wildlife such as deer, ducks, turkeys, coyotes, foxes, owls and many others. Tamara loved animals, including her pets, Butch, Beau, Buck, Fluffy and Slater and these interactions with nature gave her joy.
Tamara was a very special unique person who left a significant impact on anyone she had interaction with. She will be deeply missed by all.
Private services for Tamara will be held in the morning on March 15, 2019 in the Berkeley Hills overlooking the San Francisco Bay at Sunset View Cemetery. Tamara’s immediate family extends a special thanks to Martha Guzman, and the extended Gutierrez family members for all their love and support.