On Mach 13th, my no-nonsense aunt, Maria Ella Rodriguez-Perez, decided enough was enough and went home to be with her husband Jesus Perez, her brother Richard Rodriguez, and her parents Ella and Silverio Rodriguez. She is survived by her brother Robert Rodriguez; nieces Dina, Diana, Stephanie and Sylvia; and nephews Michael and Randy.
Born and raised in Edinburg, Texas on January 22, 1933, Maria Ella, AKA Nena, was 86 years old. She died at Mesilla Valley Hospice in Las Cruces, NM. As she took her last breath, her niece Sylvia Rodriguez and two dear friends, Priscilla Martinez and Josie Frietze sat with her and helped with her transition to her new life in heaven.
Maria Ella attended the University of Pan American (Edinburg) and fulfilled her lifelong dream of teaching. She taught first grade at Jefferson Elementary from 1954 until she retired in 1992 to take care of her mother, and subsequently her husband.
Maria Ella loved teaching, and she loved her family. She spent hours talking about her students and the joy they brought her. She expected all her students to have good manners and treat each other with respect. She delighted in recalling how many times, after she retired, she would be out eating at a restaurant, only to find her bill had been paid by a former student.
She also loved her family and would tell whoever was around to hear about her wonderful mom and dad. There was nothing her mom could not teach herself to do, and her dad was a wonder "cop", loved by all.
When the effects of Alzheimer's made it impossible for Maria Ella to live alone, she left Edinburg in 2015 to live with her niece Sylvia in Las Cruces. Here she made many new friends. She attended church at The Church of the Good Shepherd in Dona Ana (formerly St. Mary's at Hill). She loved music day on Thursdays at the Heritage. She loved having her hair done at Duffy's. She loved Priscilla, the lady that dressed like a teenager, Josie, the lady from the ranch, Paulina that quiet one that paints the nails, and Melissa the loud one. All these ladies helped with her caregiving.
Maria Ella is also greatly missed by Maddie (schnauzer). Maria Ella sang to her every morning, kissed her and told her how much she loved her. Maddie slept with her and was a constant companion during the day.
As much as she enjoyed visiting in Las Cruces, all Maria Ella wanted was to go home. Her wish will be granted.
Cremation has taken place. A memorial service will be held at The Church of the Good Shepherd on Saturday, April 13th at 11:00 a.m.
A graveside service will be held in Edinburg, Texas on Saturday, May 18th at 11:00 a.m. at Hillcrest Memorial Park. She will be buried next to her husband Jesus Perez who died in 2012.
In lieu of flowers, a donation would be appreciated to the NM Alzheimer's Association.