Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia (right) with his mother

At age 7, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia (right) with his mother, Gabriella. (Courtesy)

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia’s mother has died due to coronavirus complications, he announced Monday, July 27.

His mother, Gabriella O’Donnell, was 61 years old. It was not immediately clear when O’Donnell died.

Two weeks ago, Garcia announced that both his mother and his stepfather had contracted the virus and were on ventilators at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center.

Garcia’s stepfather, Greg O’Donnell, is still on a ventilator, Garcia said in a Monday statement.

Gabriella O’Donnell immigrated to the United States in 1982 with then-5-year-old Garcia to escape the danger of a domestic terrorist group called the Shining Path in her native Lima, Peru.

She and her son could not speak English when they settled 4,161 miles away in the San Gabriel Valley, where she cleaned houses to earn a living.

Gabriella O’Donnell later moved to Whittier and became a medical assistant in a satellite office for the City of Hope in West Covina.

“Cleaning houses was a good job,” she said in a 2018 interview, “but I wanted to do more, so I went to classes to learn more about medical terminology and computers.”

In that interview — conducted the week of Garcia’s fourth State of the City address — Gabriella O’Donnell said her son’s speech made her “so proud.

“When he was growing up, I always told him to study and work hard to reach his goals,” she said at the time. “I didn’t know he would become mayor of a great city like Long Beach.”

Garcia, in a Monday statement, said his mother “immigrated from Peru to the United States in search of the American Dream—and she found it.

“She became a health care worker, caring for thousands of patients over her career and assisting nurses and doctors who she loved dearly,” he said. “She loved to help people and lived a happy and joyous life.”

Information on services will be sent to family and friends in the days ahead, Garcia’s chief of staff said.

Public editor Rich Archbold contributed to this report.

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