Elizabeth Mary "Bella" Yerina

December 3, 1937 ~ December 24, 2020 (age 83)


Thousand Oaks, CA

Elizabeth Mary Yerina, favorably known as Bella, passed on December 24 at her home. Bella's life can be most accurately characterized as one of love for her family, youth advocacy, and stewardship of Irish culture in America.

Bella was born on December 3, 1937 in Tramore, County Waterford, Ireland to parents Arthur and Annie. She had 7 siblings: Eamonn, Tom, Kathleen, Joe, Ted, Betty, and Tony. At the age of 18, Bella moved to England and worked at Pascall Candy Company to provide for her family. Looking for a brighter future, Bella moved to Carmel, California to work as an au pair. Bella married the love of her life, John Yerina, on June 1,1963. Shortly after, Bella founded the O'Connor School of Irish Dance out of a garage in Santa Clara. In 1973, Bella and John moved to Thousand Oaks where they settled permanently.

For the next 50 years, Bella continued to grow the O'Connor School of Irish Dance, becoming a leader in the Irish-American community. Through her school, Bella influenced thousands of lives always emphasizing character building over winning. Over the years Bella received multiple awards for her contributions to the Irish community and youth stewardship. The spirit of Bella will live forever in the hearts of the O'Connor School family.

Bella is survived by her brothers, Teddy, Joe, and Tony; sisters, Kathleen and Betty; children, Patrick, Joel, and Stephanie; seven grandchildren, Shane, Jake, Ryan, Michael, Brandon, Jordan, and Colin; and five great grandchildren.

Interment will be held privately. A memorial will follow in the coming months.

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