A ‘Mom’ to Morro Bay police

Grace Silacci Poletti is partial to anyone who returns her smile, but she’ll play favorites with children and cops.

Poletti is involved in almost everything in Morro Bay but admits her pet project since 1986 has been the Morro Bay Caroling Cops. Four nights last week, the department hosted families on the Morro Bay Trolley.

With a police escort, they toured neighborhoods singing carols and giving Poletti-donated candy canes to all the children who greeted them.

On Friday, all participants and most of Morro Bay were invited to her annual open house. She decorates inside and out for Christmas.

“It takes me 10 days to decorate,” Poletti said. “Friends have offered to help, but I know where all the boxes are and where everything goes.”

She’s famous for decorating every holiday. On Halloween she delighted in giving the children a little fright and extra smiles before they collected their bounty.

A fifth-generation resident, Poletti is one of nine children raised at Villa Creek Dairy Ranch above Cayucos. She walked to a one-room schoolhouse unless it rained and her teacher drove her.

Friends usually visited them because they didn’t want nine Silacci children at their home. She recalls parent-chaperoned dances at the Cayucos veterans hall and eavesdropping on heated conversations between Marion Davies and William Randolph Hearst when she was a switchboard operator.

She also worked at Hearst Castle, Morro Bay Grocery and Morro Bay Rexall. She has volunteered at St. Timothy’s since moving to Morro Bay 35 years ago.

The love of her life, Bill Poletti, lived and ranched next door and served 40 years as a reserve sheriff’s deputy. And her not-so-secret loves have been the Morro Bay Police Department and their families.

They awarded her the title of “Mom” because she watches out for them, treats them to surprise dinners, buys gifts for their children and works all their community events — Neighborhood Watch Picnic, Harbor Festival Command Post, organizing pumpkin pies at the Thanksgiving Community Dinner and more.

“Grace is simply a joy to be around and is one of the most unassuming, loving, caring people you will ever have the opportunity to meet,” Cmdr. Tim Olivas said.

And although she lost her sight in one eye as a child, her husband after a long illness, her only daughter and then her granddaughter a year ago to cancer, she is always optimistic, especially when her five great-grandchildren are near.

“At 84, I’m happy when I can bring joy to other people,” Poletti said.

No wonder she was Morro Bay’s 2004 Citizen of the Year.

Reach Judy Salamacha at 801-1422 or jsalamacha@yahoo.com.