Obituary of "Tiki" Dellamora
Ellen “Tiki” Dellamora
Mom, Wife, Grandmother, friend and absolute force of nature.
Family and friends will gather on January 20, 2024 at 3:00 PM at Benito and Azzaro Pacific Gardens Chapel for Tiki who passed away peacefully in her home surrounded by family on December 16th, 2023. She was 88 years old.
Tiki was born on May 9th 1935, in Seattle Washington. She along with her grandmother, mother and brother Joe moved to Los Angeles in the late 1930’s and made their way up the coast to Santa Cruz in the 1950’s where they resided in the Beach Flats before buying a home on Trescony St. Tiki attended Holy Cross and Santa Cruz High School where she graduated in 1954, and briefly attended Monterey Peninsula College. In the early 70’s, she returned to Holy Cross and volunteered as a PE Teacher in her favorite Cowboy Boots.
When Tiki was 18, she traveled to Arizona to attend an American Red Cross certification teaching course. This was her introduction into the world of the American Red Cross. Tiki taught swimming lessons at The Plunge at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. She also taught adaptive needs swimming at the Pleasure Point Plunge.
In the late 60's, Tiki and family would drive to what is now Año Nuevo State Park to dig for clams. Tiki made an amazing clam pasta and enjoyed cooking for her family and friends. She and her former husband Joe resided on Wilder Ranch where Joe farmed Brussel sprouts and Tiki raised their children. One of her favorite past times was taking her kids, nieces and nephews to the "cove". Affectionately known as "Dede", it was the name that her granddaughters, nieces and nephews lovingly called her.
Tiki loved nature, whether body boarding the waves or saddling a horse, she was an avid lover of the outdoors. In her early 20’s she dove for Abalone off the coast of Catalina Island where she worked as a cook on the dive boats. She regularly talked about how proud she was of the time she dove in a hard hat, while she briefly lived in Santa Barbara. Tiki often traveled up and down the North Coast charging out into the ocean in search of the perfect wave. Tiki was a regular at Steamers, and indicators where she boogie-boarded well into her 70’s. She received first place in her category in the San Francisco “World Corporate Games” in 1988, where she was sponsored by Doc Pro Plugs and Hotline Wetsuits. Tiki did the Annual Around the Wharf swim every August and spent many summers on the beach watching her children and grandchildren in the Santa Cruz Jr. Guards Program.
On October 17th 1989, following the earthquake, Tiki’s volunteer calling was reignited. The Loma Prieta disaster response team was Tiki’s introduction into her selfless journey of disaster relief that touched so many lives. From that point on she was deployed on 50+ disasters all over the United States and Puerto Rico. Tiki responded to earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, fires and natural disasters. She responded swiftly when Hurricane Katrina swept Louisiana in August 2005, where she created a library out of donated books. She loved to read, and thought a book could take her anywhere in the world, a comfort she felt was important during the most difficult times.
Tiki deployed to New York after the attacks on the Twin Towers on September 11th 2001. She spent two months over two deployments working on Ground
Zero providing support and canteening for all rescue efforts. While in New York, she was invited to a family Thanksgiving in New Jersey. She was thrilled to dine in a “Jersey Italian” home for the holidays. When she called her family, she was laughing about how, “they had orange soda at the dinner table, for Thanksgiving! Can you believe it?” Tiki was treated like family from perfect strangers and made connections that lasted a lifetime. No job with the Red Cross was too small. Locally she participated in every “Sound the Alarm”, an event that replaced and installed fire alarms throughout the central coast.
Tiki’s love and dedication to the Red Cross was recognized in 2021 when she was awarded the highest local chapter award, the prestigious Clara Barton Award. The event was held virtually due to COVID 19 restrictions, and almost crashed the chat box due to the overwhelming congratulatory messages for Tiki. When asked about Tiki, Chapter CEO Michelle Averill stated: “In our Central Coast Chapter, perhaps no one epitomizes that can-do, joyful spirit more than Tiki Dellamora.” That can-do attitude followed Tiki into all aspects of her life.
Naturally, Tiki made friends everywhere she went. The family has always joked that she could make a friend out of anyone; noting that her walks on West Cliff always turned into an all-day venture from the long conversations she struck up with strangers and friends alike. Trying to summarize Tiki's vivacious life is impossible; the love and care she showed people (and animals) stretched beyond measure. Tiki had spunk, and was the life of the party. On her many walks with her grandchildren, "Dede would always say “walk tall, and always look up.” She would often take them outside to look at the moon and stars. So on the next crescent moon, take a walk outside, breathe in the cool evening air and look up. We know Tiki is gazing back at us.
Tiki is survived by her daughter, Jill Dellamora-Grossi, Son-in-Law Billy Grossi, her grandchildren Bianca, Bridget and Sofia Grossi of Santa Cruz; Ali Richardson of Sonora, California; Tara Rigby of Eustace, Texas. She is also survived by her Sister-In-Law Peggy Nulph and family. Tiki was proceeded in death by her Mother Laura Nulph, Son Charles Heastings, Former Husband Joseph Dellamora Jr, Grandson Joey DellaMora and Brother Joe Nulph.
The family would like to extend a heart felt “thank you” to Karen Pappas, whose care and support for Tiki was monumental for both Tiki and our family.
In lieu of flowers please consider making a donation to:
The American Red Cross of the Central Coast in care of Disaster Services.
Redcross.org/donate/memorial-donations.html/ 2960 Soquel Ave Santa Cruz, CA 95062, or to Hospice of Santa Cruz County.