Chole was born the first of six siblings on August 22, 1943 in El Paso Texas. She sadly left us in June 2009 after a very brave struggle with cancer that she had fought for over 20 years. 

Emma, Howard Lee, Chole & Sophia, April 2009, Fresno, California 

After graduating from Montebello High School in 1961, Chole attended East Los Angeles Junior College where she received her AA degree in Nursing.  She would later receive her baccalaureate in Nursing Science from California State University Fresno. 

Chole worked as a hospital nurse at Los Angeles County Hospital until 1966 when she joined the Peace Corps. She served briefly in Honduras where she taught nursing . During her Peace Corps training, Chole would also meet the man who would become her husband of 41 years, Howard.

Chole and her young family moved to Fresno, CA in 1976 where she focused on providing a loving home and raising her two sons, Howard and Isaac.  When the boys had both entered school she started working part- time as a prepared childbirth instructor and pre-natal nurse educator for a local OB/GYN. 

In 1992, Chole found her calling as a nurse, working for a local non-profit organization called Exceptional Parents Unlimited. Her work at EPU allowed her to apply her special gifts of love and understanding for children, especially those with special needs. 

At EPU she was often given the most medically fragile children and family clients. She took great satisfaction from her efforts at EPU, and insisted on working for as long as she was able, despite the tremendous physical and emotional burden that her disease and its treatments would place upon her towards the end.

The impact that Chole had on her family, friends and her community are far reaching and ever present, even now that she is no longer with us. Hundreds of people gathered at her memorial service in Fresno, and thousands of dollars were raised in her name to support the refurbishment of a memorial “move room” at the EPU facility.

“Alcantrances” by Chole Aviña Jackson

Chole, like many of her siblings had a great passion for art and was an accomplished artist herself. Fittingly, plans for the memorial room at EPU include a mural that is being painted by Chole’s sister, Margarita Aviña Valdez.

Chole passed away peacefully at her home in Fresno on June 14, 2009, surrounded by members of her immediate family. During her final days with us, many people – relatives, friends, neighbors, and co-workers would stop by the house just to be with her, and hold the hand that had given comfort and support to so many over a lifetime of service and care to others.

Many members of the hospice team that cared for Chole during her final days had often heard of Chole or had even met her at some point during their medical careers – Fresno is a small community. One of the social workers once expressed her regret that she had only heard about Chole and had never really met her until after Chole had entered hospice care. The social worker said “I would hear about Chole’s work all the time, but she always flew ‘under the radar’”.

That’s truly how Chole was…and still is: never in the spotlight, but always just close enough to make a difference in a meaningful way to the lives of many.

A guardian angel with a watchful eye protecting us all from a special place.

By Margarita Aviña Valdez

This blog began as a way for Chole’s friends and family to connect and network with each other during the final stages of her fight with cancer. Today, the blog is maintained as a comforting reminder of how Chole brought…and continues to bring us all together.


One Response to “Who’s Chole?”

  1. Cindy Lopez Says:

    Happy Birthday Friend, August will always be “the birthday month” in my mind! I fondly remember your “zest” for celebrations and living! Glad you are “looking over us” at EPU forvever!

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