In Memoriam Mary Elliot


When I started court interpreting about 30 years ago, Mary Elliott was one of a few exemplary interpreters whom I admired. 

She was such a natural-born interpreter that her flawless renditions on the witness stand made her the most requested CCB interpreter for important trials by prosecutors and defense attorneys alike. 

Even though she seemed approachable, I was afraid that there might be a hidden diva quality to her that would rear its ugly head around a young pipsqueak like me. I was mistaken. Mary was authentically warm, funny and unpretentious. When she warmed up to me, she would whisper things to me like, "You don't say things like that around that crowd." Or she would exclaim in true Mary-style, "Don't be a ding-dong!" She became a guru to me. With time, I am proud to say that I thought of her as a friend as well. 

Uri Yaval, Mary and I had a bond as like-minded activists for the profession and we were faithful to our weekly lunches at the now-closed Colima Restaurant on the corner of then-Sunset and Broadway. We were joined by other friends such as Joaquin Chan-Sanchez and Eric Valdez later on. There, Mary taught us to squeeze fresh lemons on our tortilla chips to enhance their flavor, something I still do today.

Mary was a beautiful, intelligent and classy lady. There was a soft elegance to her that became more apparent to me when she married Charlie. I remember her always beaming with joy and blinding us with the flashes of light reflecting off of her enormous wedding ring. We made many jokes about it. This is how I want to remember her. She was so happy living in her beach house with Charlie, traveling with him, and enjoying all the friendships that Charlie and she had with attorneys, judges and interpreters. She was fulfilled. 

She was a guiding light to many people. She, along with Sara Krauthamer, whom I must mention here, laid the groundwork for us finally to force the County to recognize us as employees. Both Sara and Mary taught many of us the art of interpreting as instructors as well. 

I am grateful for how Mary enriched my life and I know she also made many of you better people. May You Rest In Peace, Dear Mary. 

Roxana Cardenas