This photo from 1941 and provided by writer Tim Z. Hernandez on behalf of the Bea Kozera Estate shows Beatrice Kozera and her son Albert Franco. This photo was taken six years before Kozera and Kerouac met .
Beatrice Kozera — also known as Bea Franco, and known to readers as “Terry, the Mexican girl” in Jack Kerouac’s novel On the Road – has died at age 92. Kozera died in Lakewood, California of natural causes.
Her 15-day relationship with novelist Jack Kerouac was chronicled in On the Road – yet Kozera only learned a few years ago that her affair with the novelist in the farmworker labor camp in 1947 was featured in both the novel and the movie of the same title, released last year. Alice Braga portrayed the character inspired by Kozera.
Kozera was informed of her anonymous fame by author Tim Hernandez, who tracked down Kozera while he was researching her story for a book due to be released later this month called Manana Means Heaven.
“As far as she was concerned she was a normal, ordinary person who at one point in her life met a man,” Hernandez said. “She never knew that this gentleman Kerouac ever became anything.”
In On the Road, at the point when Sal Paradise (Kerouac) decides to leave her behind, he writes,
“We turned at a dozen paces, for love is a duel, and looked at each other for the last time.”
Hernandez resolved three years ago that he would write his own fictional account of what occurred after Kerouac left her behind. However, he eventually tracked her down — after realized she lived only one mile from his home in Fresno, California.
Hernandez then spent the next two years interviewing her. Kozera was able to hold a copy of Manana Means Heaven in her hands just one week before she passed away.
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This photo from 1947 and provided by writer Tim Z. Hernandez on behalf of the Bea Kozera Estate shows Beatrice Kozera, left, with friend Angie in Selma, California – in the same year she met Kerouac.