A Legacy of Fashion, Family and Flowers
By Valerie Vinyard
Through fashion, flowers and a “heart of gold,” Georgeanne Fimbres spent a lifetime inspiring students and bringing joy to thousands of brides and families on their special days.
The mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, teacher and businesswoman left a legacy of giving of herself when she passed away July 10 at the age of 83.
“My mom’s greatest gift was making everybody she encountered feel powerful, part of something bigger,” said Gabrielle Fimbres, her daughter and a senior communications manager for Roche Tissue Diagnostics in Tucson.
Throughout her life, Georgeanne used her gifts in many ways, through her shop, Villa Feliz Flowers, her nutrition and fashion design classes at Pima Community College, and her involvement in Tu Nidito, Angel Charities for Children and Pima Council on Aging.
A Phoenix native, she moved to Tucson in 1952 at age 12 and later attended the University of Arizona, where she studied fashion, earning a bachelor’s degree in home economics and later, a master’s degree in education. She began working at PCC through a federally funded nutrition program in the 1970s.
“I remember my brother, Guy and I going to Sells with her,” Gabrielle said. “We became friends with so many families in the Sells community. We would bring down lots of fresh food and veggies, and she’d talk about why nutrition was important. When some of those programs went away, she became involved in the fashion program.”
The program’s popularity grew over the years, and some of Georgeanne’s students would progress to the top fashion institutes in New York. Georgeanne’s earliest fashion mentor was local icon Cele Peterson. Georgeanne first worked for Cele while a student at UArizona, and the two remained devoted friends until Cele’s death in 2010 at 101 years old. “They were incredibly close, not just in the fashion world but in making the community stronger,” Gabrielle said.
“Georgeanne Fimbres was truly an inspirational person, a true champion for students at Pima Community College’s fashion design department and was a driving force for the arts at Pima,” said PCC Interim Chancellor Dolores Durán-Cerda. “Her care for the Pima fashion design students was nothing short of amazing. Georgeanne saw value in every student, no matter how many struggles they carried. She worked hard to ensure that all of her students felt their self-worth.”
Villa Feliz was opened in 1971 in a storefront at Kolb Road and Broadway by Georgeanne and Guy Fimbres, Georgeanne’s husband. While the intent was that Georgeanne would not have much involvement in the shop, she soon found her passion and talent for floral art and for partnering with brides in bringing their vision to life. Georgeanne became sole proprietor of Villa Feliz when Guy died in 1993, and the shop remained open for more than 50 years.
Tara Kirkpatrick, a BizTucson editor and freelance writer, hired her to do her flowers for her April 2000 wedding at Westward Look Resort.
“I knew the minute I walked into her beautiful flower shop that I wanted her to do my wedding,” said Kirkpatrick, who remembered that Fimbres used “beautiful yellow roses throughout because I grew up in Texas and those were my favorite. Georgeanne just had incredible taste and style and she gave us such stunning bouquets.”
Carlotta Flores, chef and the owner of Flores Concepts, added: “Where does the word ‘lovely’ have a better definition than when thinking of our dear Tucson treasure, Georgeanne, a tiny stature of a woman with a heart of gold? She can be compared to none other with her creative flower arrangements and her many beautiful and unique fashion designs.”
Kristine Jensen, owner of Gallery of Food, a Tucson catering company, met Fimbres almost 30 years ago when her company was the house caterer of the Stillwell-Twiggs House and Fimbres was coordinating the flowers for weddings there.
“I knew her professionally, but I grew a personal attachment to her,” Jensen said. “I consider her a matriarch of Tucson. Georgeanne was just a really amazing, independent entrepreneurial woman who set the stage for people to come in and be able to set up a business.
“If she was working with you on something, she jumped in with both feet. She was truly a mentor. She made you feel like you could do anything when you were around her.”