This obituary is part of “We will remember“, a series about those we have lost to coronavirus.
People always complimented Stella Lopez for having a big, beautiful smile. She was a kind woman who lived for her children and tried to help others by sharing her sewing skills and homemade pastries.
Lopez, 79, died on December 21, 2020 at his daughter’s home in Monroe as a result of complications from COVID-19.
She was born in San Antonio and graduated from Somerset High School.
Lopez married Joe Lopez in Somerset, Texas, and they eventually moved to Monroe. After her husband’s death in 1972, Lopez remained single and decided to raise their four children in Michigan.
Lopez, a member of the Monroe Center for Healthy Aging, worked as a private home caregiver with the Monroe County Opportunity Program and retired from the Lutheran home in 2010 after 25 years of employment.
She lived for her children, and her motto, as she instilled in them and her grandchildren, was: If you have to do something, make sure you do it right, according to daughter Elaine Sulfaro.
She loved spending time with her children and attending events for her grandchildren; she adored her great-granddaughter.
Lopez loved sewing, crafting, gardening and playing the card game crazy rummy with his daughters. She also enjoyed making Mexican food, baking and watching the Cooking Channel.
“She always came over and helped my sister and I with plants and gardening,” Sulfaro said. “Her enchiladas were delicious. … Her specialty was making turtles for family and friends at Christmas time. ”
Lopez traveled before her health began to decline, especially to Texas and Arizona to visit family and escape the winter weather, Sulfaro recalled.
“Another thing Mom enjoyed doing was going to the casino,” Sulfaro said. “When she retired, we took her to Las Vegas, and she always said it was one of the best trips she’s ever taken.”
Lopez, who lived alone in a senior community, was active and healthy until 2017, when she had a heart valve replacement and was facing a kidney disease.
During a dialysis treatment, an employee noticed that Lopez was coughing. “They said they had a couple of positive COVID cases,” Sulfaro said, suggesting she be tested.
Lopez tested positive for COVID-19 and was taken to Beaumont Hospital, Dearborn, for treatment. After being hospitalized for more than a week, she was sent home under Michigan Hospice and died a few days later in her daughter’s home with the family at her bedside.
Family members had planned a huge celebration for Lopez’s 80th birthday, so that day last year they gathered and hired a mariachi band (Lopez’s favorite) to play in her honor at her daughter’s house. In the cemetery afterwards, a balloon was released in honor of her life.
Lopez leaves behind children Joe A. (Susan) Lopez, Katherine A. (David), Elaine (Michael Young) Sulfaro and Robert (Ann Marie) Lopez; grandchildren Cameron Sulfaro, Kelsey Vensel, Alex Sulfaro, Ciera (Ryan) Clapp and Kara Vensel; great-granddaughter Cecilia Sulfaro; and siblings Roberto (Becky) Martinez, Consuelo Martinez and Eva Martinez.
If you have a family member or close friend who has died of COVID-19 and you would like to share their story, please visit ours memorial wall and select “Share a story”.
Brendel Hightower is an Assistant Editor at Detroit Free Press. Contact her at [email protected]