By JUDY SALAMACHA
Morro Bay is mourning the loss of Bertha Tyler, who completed her journey to join her husband, Dean Tyler, already present with their Lord God in Heaven, on Friday, October 25, 2019 surrounded by her loving family.
Bertha Alcorn Tyler was born in Arizona to immigrant parents from Mexico. She had 2 brothers and 4 sisters. At 16 she married Eldie Alcorn by arrangement. He died in 1968 while living in Morro Bay. They had 2 sons and a daughter. Before living in Morro Bay, she worked her way up at Honeywell in San Pedro to a line supervisor, then with her savings and sale of her Southern California home, she opened the Chat ‘n Chew Restaurant on the corner of Main and Harbor Streets, which quickly became a favorite for home-cooked Mexican and American food and 6 choices of Bertha’s “baked daily” pies. As a popular community gathering place, the first Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce meetings were held at Bertha’s solely owned and operated restaurant. It was there she met “the love of her life” Dean Tyler, who loved her cooking and her company.
They married May 22, 1969, and with his two daughters, they now had 5 grown children to love. She treasured Dean’s 45-year tradition when on the 22nd of every month Dean sent flowers or a plant to her, “the love of his life.” Dean had purchased the start-up Morro Bay Aquarium to care for endangered sea life before it was fashionable or even required by Federal mandate to do so. When Bertha remarked to her husband that it wasn’t profitable, she decided to sell her restaurant. Together they built a successful family-favorite tourism business and rescue facility, always caring as family for the sea life brought to them. The couple would personally take care of the unhealthy sea-mammals either by nursing them back to be released into the ocean or bay, securing and personally delivering them to a new habitat as far away at New York, or if all else failed welcome them to live out their lives with the Tylers at the Morro Bay Aquarium.
In 1995 with the help of her grandson John Alcorn, Bertha prayed the sinner’s prayer to receive Christ. Her life was changed forever. Her radiant love for God was evident as she told family, friends and many elderly convalescent patients about God’s love.
At age 90 and with grandson John’s help to care for day-to-day business at the Aquarium, Bertha retired to care for Dean, who died in 2015. Dedicated to her husband, Bertha at age 92 wrote, published and presented to community groups her book, Life Ashore With Living Parents, a pictorial description of her favorite stories about the people who helped them at the Morro Bay Aquarium and the mammals they cared for 24-7. Her book launch at Morro Bay’s Coalesce Book Store was reported to generate top sales of any book launch held by the downtown bookstore.
Bertha was an active member of Quota International of Morro Bay. She began and chaired a successful bowl-a-thon for years which helped handicapped children go to summer camp. She and Dean traveled overseas for Aquarium conferences, and the USA for bowling tournaments. Wherever they went they always visited aquariums. She was also a founding member of the Morro Bay Maritime Museum and held active membership with the Estero Bay Republican Women, Order of Eastern Star, Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce and Historical Society of Morro Bay. She offered her home each Sunday for services for the Living Room Church.
She is survived by daughters, Judy (Sylvester) Riehm, Jeanne Owen, Joanie (Lloyd) O’Neal; her Morro Bay family and loving helpers John (Stacy) Alcorn; Niece Debi (John) Hesch and great-granddaughter Dana Bernardo (Tristain). Her Arizona Families include: Brother Joe (Ruthie) Franco, Sister Felicia Lynch; and Bertha’s & Dean’s 55 grandchildren and extended family. Bertha is predeceased by brother Paul Franco and sisters Lupe (Ed) Sylvester, Irene Munoz, and Ruth Hernandez.
Bertha and Dean were honored as Living Treasures of Morro Bay by the Chamber of Commerce and were constant community and children’s advocates.
Bertha requested instead of flowers, donations be sent to Quota International of Morro Bay, Morro Bay Maritime Museum or a favorite charity of choice in Bertha’s name.