Tuesday, August 20, 2013

RIP Bea Franco, Kerouac's "Terry, the Mexican Girl"

As you may have noticed by my previous posts, at the moment I'm totally involved in reading Mañana Means Heaven by Tim Z. Hernandez, the story of Bea Franco or "Terry, the Mexican Girl" of Jack Karouac's On the Road fame. Sadly, today I received the following notification via email:
Fresno, CA. (August 19, 2013) — Beatrice Kozera, a.k.a. Bea Franco, a.k.a. “Terry” of legendary American author Jack Kerouac’s magnum opus, On the Road, died of natural causes on the morning of Thursday August 15, 2013 in Lakewood, California.

In her own words, her life was “nothing special.” Which might be true, if you do not count that her role in the author's career was important enough to include her name in over twenty biographies on Kerouac, and that she had amassed a literary cult following for the past 56 years, all unbeknownst to her and her family. In late autumn of 1947 she met the young Kerouac in Selma, California where she was living in the farmworker labor camps with her family. The two struck up a relationship that lasted fifteen days, which he chronicled in his book On the Road— a novel that sparked the counterculture generation and was recently made into a movie featuring Brazilian actress Alice Braga in the role of “Terry.” What has been largely unknown is that after six years of rejections it was the story of “Terry, the Mexican Girl” that opened the doors for the publication of Kerouac’s novel. The timing of her death was unfortunate, considering that later this month a book based on her life and written with her participation, titled, Mañana Means Heaven by author Tim Z. Hernandez is being released. “My mother hung on just long enough to see and hold the book in her hands,” her son Albert commented.

Beatrice Kozera was born Beatrice Renteria in Los Angeles, California in 1920, and spent most of the early part of her life following the seasons with her family, picking cotton, grapes and other crops. She eventually settled down in Fresno, California with her husband LeRoy Kozera, who in her own words, “Was a good man who gave me a good life.” She is survived by her son Albert Franco and her daughter Patricia Leonard, along with several grandchildren and great grandchildren.
The news of Bea Franco's death has been picked up nationally and internationally. She was 92 years old.

1 comment:

  1. Awww, always sad to lose good authors... However, it seems that she has live a long and good life. RIP.

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