Elaine H. Cannata
Resident of Walnut Creek
Elaine left her worn out, earthly body and floated to heaven on January 10, 2021 after an incredible 15 year battle with health problems. She was beautiful inside and out with an unforgettable spirit.
Elaine was born Jan. 7, 1958 in Glendale California to Marlin and Patsy Head. In high school she moved with her mom, twin Carol, and sister Janine to San Jose. While attending community college during the day, she served food at night at the popular jazz spot – Garden City Restaurant where she would sing between courses. When her father started a small homebuilding business, she decided to give Real Estate a try and turned out to be one of the best new homes’ sales people in the Bay Area. Over her 35 years as an agent, she enjoyed helping hundreds of families find the home of their dreams while winning awards for top sales. Elaine worked for several national homebuilders, the last of which was Lennar Homes. Unfortunately, she had to retire in September of 2020 due to worsening health.
In the early 80’s with encouragement and support of her best friend, Judy Schulte, (who at the time was Miss San Francisco), Elaine won the title of Miss San Jose. She also won the talent portion of the competition with her incredible singing voice. Singing would play a major part in her life as she met her future husband, Jim, when their voice teacher, Anita Mixson, arranged for the two to sit next to each other at a function. They hit it off immediately, and spent the next 42 years together, 35 of them happily married. Elaine felt her biggest accomplishment in life was bringing into the world her two favorite people, her children, Anthony and Carly. She was a very proud wife and mother, always rooting-on her children, from watching Anthony play sports and Carly dance, to encouraging them to attend and graduate college successfully. Her fear in leaving life early, was missing out on their major life moments such as weddings and grandchildren.
After not feeling well in 2006, Elaine was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, a blood cancer, which caused both of her kidneys to fail. She was immediately started on dialysis and chemotherapy but continued to do the job she loved so much - selling homes. In 2007, she suffered a heart attack but did not let that slow her down. After approximately 30 surgeries mostly for dialysis access, she finally fell into a rhythm with a dialysis at home program that she did for 11 hours a day, 7 days a week. Although she still had to be hospitalized for various infections and problems along the way, she continued to work the entire time and never once said “Why me?” or complained. She did all of this in her legendary fashionable outfits with the brightest smile on her face. Elaine rarely talked about her health problems, because she wanted to focus on the more positive aspects of her life. Very few, if any of her clients or coworkers knew of her struggles because she was always upbeat – putting “one foot in front of the other.” Originally given 3 years to live, she fought for 15 years, with a warrior’s attitude. Unfortunately, in 2020 Elaine was diagnosed with a secondary cancer – stage IV kidney cancer.
Elaine did not let her health problems stop her from living a full life. She cherished time with her family above all, creating memories for them to cherish forever. Over the years, the family traveled together many times to Kauai, up and down the coast of California, to Yosemite, and Tahoe all while lugging her dialysis machine in tow. She especially enjoyed traveling to Southern California to see her daughter, Carly, perform. In 2016, she finally designed the kitchen of her dreams and became a gourmet cook in her new kitchen, always trying out new recipes. Elaine was also a huge Bay Area sports fan. She knew every player on the SF Giants, and loved watching the Warriors play and even went to an NBA finals game with her family in 2016. Elaine was one of a kind…loving, generous, compassionate, hard-working, bright and never had a bad word to say about anyone. She was a very selfless person, always providing for her loved ones and supporting the people around her. She will be greatly missed by all of the people who were lucky enough to know and love her.
Elaine is survived by her husband, Jim, her two children who she adored – Carly and Anthony, Anthony’s partner Renee Matthies, two sisters Carol Manzitto and Janine Heinrichs, halfbrother Aaron Lawson, step-mother Marge Head, mother-in-law Sue Cannata, and brother and sister-in-law Ray and Paige Cannata. Elaine’s family is so grateful for the 15 years of care and support of the team at Kaiser Permanente, Walnut Creek. There will be a joyous celebration of Elaine’s incredible life as soon as it is safe to do so.
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