Family, friends recall Lopez couple as helpful to all, dedicated to sons
July 16, 2014
Friends of Mayra and Eliseo Lopez remembered them Monday as people who were always willing to help others and dedicated to their two boys.
Mayra, 40, and Eliseo, 42, were killed in a shooting Saturday night in Sopris Village, a subdivision in the midvalley. The suspect is their nephew, Williams Anderson Amaya, who was renting a room in their house.
Any child in the Basalt public schools who received a bump or bruise or battled a stomach ache over the past 12 years likely was cared for by Mayra. She worked as a nurse's aide and divided time between the elementary, middle and high schools.
"She was my right hand. It's going to be hard to do it without her," said Carole Maner, the school nurse. "She became a friend, not somebody I just worked with."
“That couple was amazing. They always tried to help people.”
Carlos Nolasco, longtime family friend
Mayra learned the skills necessary for the job and exercised great initiative, Maner said. She not only cared for sick kids, she got to know them as young students. She spent most of her time at the elementary school, and many kids would stop by her office to say hello or give her a hug in the hall, Maner said.
The Lopezes have two sons, ages 13 and 14, who were the center of their lives.
Longtime family friend Carlos Nolasco said Eliseo took an interest in whatever activities his boys were engaged in. "He always spent time with his kids," he said. That included helping them with homework, reading with them when they were young and helping with Boy Scout activities.
Eliseo was characterized as someone who was always willing to assist family and friends. "He always liked to help people," Nolasco said. "He was the best guy I know."
Eliseo worked as an electrician and in the construction industry.
The couple moved to the Roaring Fork Valley in 1994. "That couple was amazing. They always tried to help people," Nolasco said. Mayra always tried to make people smile, he said.
That's a common thread that came up in interviews with four people. Maner said Mayra loved organizing gatherings to mark the birthdays and other special occasions for co-workers at the elementary school.
Lisa Robbiano, a family nurse practitioner with the nonprofit Roaring Fork School Health Centers, works in conjunction with the school health staff, so she got to know Mayra in recent years. She called her a "ray of sunshine" type of person.
Mayra took an interest in all of the kids and got to know the parents of many of them, Robbiano said. She was a pleasant person to be around who regularly displayed her warmth and compassion for others.
"She was one of those people you could talk to about anything," Robbiano said.
Father Dan Norick, the priest at St. Vincent in Basalt and St. Mary's of the Crown in Carbondale, said the Lopez family was active in the Catholic church. They attended Sunday services at St. Stephen's in Glenwood Springs and enjoyed the connections they made there, he said. The boys attended after-school religious studies at St. Vincent, and Mayra regularly helped by providing food and whatever assistance was needed.
Norick said Mayra was "bubbly, friendly and compassionate." She also worked as a "bridge between Spanish and English" people, he said.
News of Saturday night's shooting spread by the time Spanish service was held on Sunday morning. Parishioners were "very sad, shocked and surprised," he said.
The two Lopez boys are staying with an aunt and uncle in Aspen, according to Nolasco. They have a support system but are obviously facing a tough time.
"I'm very concerned about the boys," Nolasco said, echoing the sentiments of many people.
A benefit for the family will be held Wednesday as part of the weekly concerts. This week's event will be in Lions Park. Basalt Regional Heritage Society and Boy Scout Troop 242 are putting on their annual chicken dinner with all the fixings. Proceeds this year will go to the Lopez family.
The dinner will start being served at 5 p.m. The concert is at 5:30 p.m.
Efforts are also underway to start a fund for the family at Alpine Bank. Details weren't finalized Monday.
Norick said no service has been set yet for Mayra and Eliseo.