A Monroe woman who loved people and mariachi music died of COVID-19

This obituary is part of “We Will Remember”, a series about those we have lost to the coronavirus.

People have always complimented Stella Lopez for her 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 baking.

Lopez, 79, died Dec. 21, 2020, at her daughter’s home in Monroe from complications related to 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.

Stella Lopez with her children, left to right, Kathy Vensel, Robert Lopez, Joe Lopez and Elaine Sulfaro.

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, which she instilled in them and her grandchildren, was: If you’re going to do something, make sure you do it right, according to her daughter Elaine Sulfaro.

She enjoyed spending time with her children and attending events for her grandchildren. she adored her great-granddaughter.

Great-granddaughter Cecilia Sulfaro with Lopez on her 78th birthday.

Lopez enjoyed sewing, crafts, gardening, and playing crazy rummy with her daughters. She also enjoyed cooking Mexican food, cooking and watching the cooking channel.

“She always came and helped my sister and I with the plants and the gardening,” Sulfaro said. “His enchiladas were delicious. … His specialty was making turtles for his family and friends at Christmas.

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Lopez traveled before her health began to decline, particularly to Texas and Arizona to visit family and escape winter conditions, Sulfaro recalled.

“Another thing Mom liked to do was go 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 been on.”

Lopez, who lived alone in an elderly community, was active and healthy until 2017, when she underwent heart valve replacement and faced kidney disease.

During a dialysis treatment, a staff member noticed Lopez was coughing. “They said they had a few positive COVID cases,” Sulfaro said, and suggested he get tested.

Lopez with her grandsons and great-granddaughter on her 79th birthday.

Lopez tested positive for COVID-19 and was taken to Beaumont Hospital in Dearborn for treatment. After being hospitalized for more than a week, she was sent home to the care of Michigan Hospice and died days later at her daughter’s home with her family at her bedside.

Family members had planned a big party for Lopez’s 80th birthday, so on this day last year they got together and hired a mariachi band (Lopez’s favorite) to play in her honor at their home. her daughter. At the cemetery afterwards, a balloon was released in honor of his life.

Lopez is survived by 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 died of COVID-19 and you want to share their story, please visit our memorial wall and select “Share a story”.

Brendel Hightower is associate editor at the Detroit Free Press. Contact her at [email protected]

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