A survivor of life on the streets for much of her 59 years, Yvonne Barillas, who was found slain in a hotel room near Mission and 16th streets late last month, will be buried Saturday following funeral services in her adopted neighborhood.
People who knew Barillas remember her as troubled by schizophrenia but also as an energetic, happy and loving person whose smile would light up a room.
Born in 1953 in Nicaragua to Carlos Barillas and Blanca Luis Ruiz, Barillas moved to San Francisco as a child and lived in the Mission District for most of her life. She grew up on Capp and 25th streets and attended Mission High School.
Barillas loved music and dance from a young age and throughout her life. She was known for her exuberant personality and infectious laugh.
“Even though my mom may have been schizophrenic and a drug addict, she can tell you my favorite things,” said Yvonne Tello, one of Barillas’ daughters. “My dad has no idea, but a mom is a mom. She’d be like, ‘I brought you your favorite drink,’ or ‘I know you like these, [they] are your favorite candy.’”
Dedicated to the Catholic faith throughout her life, Barillas attended St. Charles Borromeo Parish in the Mission. She donated what money she could to various Catholic churches, her daughters said.
“She could pray for hours,” said another daughter, Kelly Cruz. “She had a beautiful way of prayer that would just touch you.” Barillas’ daughters recalled that she would call them and pray over the phone.
Barillas was well-liked in the homeless communities of the Mission, according to those who knew her. She lived in single-room-occupancy housing facilities for much of her life.
“The streets took care of her,” Tello said. “She knew everybody in San Francisco, from Fisherman’s Wharf all the way down to Daly City. There wasn’t a person she didn’t know.”
Police reported that Barillas died of a knife wound to the neck late last month. They are investigating the incident as a homicide.
Barillas is survived by two siblings, Aguisela Cartagena and Carlos Barillas; four children, Yvonne and Blanca Tello, Kelly Cruz, and Luis Cartagena; and six grandchildren, Azalia Cruz, Sky and Myevea Dejean, Aniah Tello, and Jeremih and Jovanni Cartagena.
“She was a really strong woman,” Cruz said. “To survive the streets of San Francisco for as long as she had — that’s a strong person.”
A funeral service for Barillas will be held Sat., April 13, at noon at Duggan’s Funeral Service, 3434 17th St. The family is accepting donations to pay for her burial, and they encourage individuals with information about her death to call the San Francisco Police Department’s anonymous tip line at 415-552-4558.