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Consuelo Bermudez Nieto (1942-2021): Immigrant spread cultural understanding, helped others new to the country | News

Consuelo Nieto didn’t leave her home country so much as she brought it with her when she moved to the United States.

The founder of at least one of Bakersfield folkloric dance troupes and a singer in a local mariachi band, Nieto made sure local youth of Mexican heritage learned about the the deep roots of their Hispanic culture.

“Connie was always very proud of her culture, her heritage,” said Erlinda Manzano, whose mother, newspaper publisher Esther H. Manzano, was a friend of Nieto’s.

But Nieto didn’t stop there. She often helped other immigrants like her by pushing for immigration reform, attending conventions and even decorating cakes bearing the logo of the Mexican American Political Association, in which she had become involved. As a day job, she helped others file paperwork legitimizing their residency in the United States.

Nieto died Nov. 8 at the age of 79. The cause of her death was not available.

She is remembered as a woman who gave generously of her time to help others new to the country. Well known within the local Hispanic community, Nieto was active in the early days of the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

“She was a good member to help us through all the stumbling blocks and roadblocks,” said Manuel G. Lerma, one of the chamber’s founding members. “If you asked her to do something, she helped you out.”

But it was in cultural representation that Nieto shone brightest. She loved to sing and dance, and that came through when she worked with young people.

She took her folkloric groups to schools as a way of introducing students to Mexican art and culture, and would help raise money to buy the pricey costumes the dances require.

Nieto also made a name for herself as a cake decorator, as well as a mariachi singer at a time women weren’t often known for doing that.

Those who knew her well remember her as a charming person with a great sense of humor.

“She was a real caring person, very personal,” Lerma said. “She got along with everyone.”

Born July 20, 1942, in Leon, Guanajuato the younger sister of two brothers, Nieto gained U.S. citizenship in her early 20s. Settling in Bakersfield, she made a career at the Kern County Economic Opportunity Corp., where she worked as an immigration specialist. As a volunteer, she helped local attorneys who served the less fortunate.

Preceded in death by her husband, Richard Nieto Sr., and by her brothers Ralph and Jose Bermudez, she is survived by her three children, Nancy Kay Morales, Richard Nieto Jr. and Patricia Ann Chamberlin; seven grandchildren; 10 great-grandchildren; as well as many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.

A viewing has been scheduled for 6-8 p.m. Thursday, with a 7 p.m. Rosary, at Kern River Family Mortuary. A memorial service and Mass is set for noon Friday at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 1515 Baker St., to be followed immediately by a 1 p.m. graveside service at Greenlawn Funeral Home Northeast, 3700 River Blvd. There will be a celebration of life event after the graveside service at Druids Lodge, 501 Sumner St. 

In lieu of flowers, the family is asking people donate in her honor to the Leukemia Research Foundation.

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