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Assemblyman honors local Gold Star Mother

Source: Tracy Press

Julia Conover’s advocacy for veterans, and for the families who have lost loved ones to war, has become well-known in Northern California and in San Joaquin County and Tracy, where she is most active.

Assemblyman Carlos Villapudua heard her name when he was considering who he should chose for his annual Assembly District 13 Woman of the Year recognition to conclude National Women’s History Month. He didn’t know much more about her beyond her involvement with Wreaths Across America, a campaign repeated each December to adorn headstones in veterans’ cemeteries with wreaths, honoring their service and sacrifice.

That was reason enough for Villapudua to consider Conover among other worthy candidates for the recognition, but Conover’s name kept coming up whenever he asked people in the community for recommendations.

“I knew it was her, but I wanted to cross-reference with some folks in the community and her name was at the top, so I was happy that my recommendation was right on,” he said on Monday, when he presented Conover with the award at El Tapatio Restaurant on 11th Street in Tracy.

The presentation came as a surprise to Conover, who is presently the Tracy coordinator for Wreaths Across America, treasurer/secretary for the San Jose Chapter of American Gold Star Mothers – Northern California, which represents Tracy, and she is vice chair for the California Gold Star Memorial Monument that will be at the new Veterans Administration clinic in French Camp.

She’s also one of the original members of Military Moms, Tracy, which formed after the start of the war in Iraq in 2003. She and a group of other women gathered to support local young people who had joined the military and were serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and other overseas deployments.

Conover is a U.S. Army veteran herself. Her son, Brandon Dewey, was a 20-year-old lance corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps when he was killed in Iraq. Her daughter, Elyse, is a chief in the U.S. Navy. Her family’s military service has motivated her to stay committed to veterans’ causes, and the loss of her son in 2006 only strengthened her resolve to continue serving American troops and veterans.

“That’s the whole reason I do everything that I do, to make sure he’s remembered. I do everything to honor him,” Conover said. In the years since then she’s been supported by the respect that the community has for Gold Star parents, and by the appreciation the community has for those who support veterans.

“I love being part of the community and love doing everything that I do. This is a big honor.”