2006 Inductee - Jessie Ornelas

2006 Inductee - Jessie Ornelas

Women’s Issues

Jessie was born in October of 1921 to Jesus and Lucia Burrola in Chihuahua, Mexico. In 1924, her dad left Mexico to work in the railroad in the United States. She went to elementary and Junior High School in Las Cruces, New Mexico. In 1938, her family moved to California to work in farming. In Stockton, she attended the 8th grade at Hazelton School and went on to Stockton High School. After graduating, she attended the Goodrich School of Cosmetology, graduating with her Cosmetology license by 1944.

At this time, her father Jesus, along with others founded the Comision Honorifica Mexicana in Stockton, a liaison between the Mexican Consulate in San Francisco and Mexican families in the Stockton area. Jessie worked as an interpreter for the Comision and helped facilitate the leasing of dance halls, contracting bands, and organizing the “Jamaicas”, Cinco de Mayo and 16th of September celebrations. Jessie also became an active member of Comite de Benificencia, which for a small yearly fee, guaranteed members a modest burial and funeral service and notified relatives in Mexico.

In the early 40’s, she met Francisco Ornelas at a Comision dance, and they married in 1945. After working at various beauty parlors, she did what few Latinas during this era could, and opened her own shop called “Olga’s” located on Sutter Street, in Stockton. Moreover, not only did she join the Stockton Chapter of the Business and Professional Women’s Club during this time, but also became president! Shortly thereafter, they purchased a Mexican restaurant called “El Paraiso”, and continued with five years of successful operation.

In the early 1960’s, Jessie helped organize a youth component to La Comision Honorifica called “Club Juvenil” which sold refreshments at the weekly Jamaicas to raise money for annual field trips to Disneyland or to the snow. They helped create parade floats, a marching band, scholarships and a ballet folklorico dance group. When the Comision was on the brink of bankruptcy in the 1990’s, she spearheaded a successful effort to keep the organization financially afloat. At 83, she is still an active member!