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Guadalupe Vela Alvarado, “Lupe,” 76, formerly of Nyssa, returned to her heavenly home on December 24, 2018, at Brookdale Troutdale Memory Care after a difficult 3 year battle with Lewy Body Dementia.
Born in Pharr, Texas, she was one of ten children born to Jesus and Porfiria Vela. The Vela family worked as seasonal farmworkers, traveling during the spring and summer to Arizona, Nevada, Idaho and Oregon. The family spent a lot of time in Eastern Oregon and established lifelong friendships.
When Lupe was just 15, she left home and married Ruben Lopez who served in the Army, during which time she continued the life of a migrant farmworker with Ruben’s family. They had five children, Norberto, Ruben Jr., Joel, Fernando and Rachel, while working and living in the Northwest. They ultimately settled out in Nyssa, Oregon, where all five children attended and graduated from the Nyssa School District.
With a goal of moving away from the migrant lifestyle, Lupe began working for the Nyssa School District as a custodian. As she learned about the education world, she completed her GED in order to become a teacher’s aid at the elementary level. After establishing relationships with students and families, she took a position as a Migrant Home School Consultant in which she recruited migrant families from where they lived in labor camps and on farms, to enroll them in programs to provide more services to their children and families.
Always looking to advance and improve herself, Lupe, with the support of then Elementary Principal Dennis Savage, began a bilingual education program at Boise State University in order to become a teacher.
After nearly 20 years, her marriage to Ruben ended and she devoted all her efforts to taking care of her family and finishing her education to be able to provide for their needs.
Lupe spent many years working full time, raising five children and attending night, weekend and summer classes (with her youngest at her side) in order to complete her degree from Boise State University, additional Oregon coursework through Eastern Oregon University, and become a licensed teacher in the State of Oregon. There were many fond memories and stories Lupe shared about this part of her life and most, if not all, included her dear friend Christina Mejia as her education and travel companion on the same journey to becoming teachers at Nyssa Elementary.
Lupe started her teaching career in 1980 as a 4th Grade teacher at Nyssa Elementary and spent most of her teaching career at grades 4 and 5. When considering retirement, she opted instead to move to a position at Nyssa Middle School to teach Social Studies – how she loved the curriculum!
Lupe married Matias Alvarado in 1982 and together they raised Rachel, traveled, visited classic car shows, and went on many adventures. After 23 years, Matias, passed away from lung cancer in 2005 and she decided to retire and spend more time with her grandkids and friends. At the time of her retirement from Nyssa School District in 2006, she was once again working with English Language Learners and their families at the middle school level and answered to the title of ‘Miss’ from her migrant students.
Retirement came slowly as Lupe accepted many substitute positions in Nyssa and Ontario to continue to serve kids but she did take every opportunity to attend girls’ weekend trips to Nevada with her fun-loving friends. She also enjoyed spending time with her longtime friends Christina, Dolores and Las Martas, as she lovingly called them, and pitched in making tamales for church fundraisers along the way. In 2010 when Emree was born, the youngest of her 13 grandchildren, Lupe couldn’t bear the thought of someone else looking after her and she fully retired from substitute teaching and became part of Emree’s daily life. Lupe and Emree were pretty much inseparable for the remainder of her life, and even in the advanced stages of dementia, she always knew who Emree was.
Lupe dedicated over 40 years of her life to the students and families of the Nyssa School District. She was an avid reader, an amazing dancer, an inspiring teacher, a lover of Greek Mythology, and she loved to travel and spend time with family. Lupe will be greatly missed by her family and friends.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Matias Alvarado, parents, Jesus and Porfiria Vela; three sisters, Celia (+Jose) Delgado, Anastacia (Roy) Gonzalez, Bridget Vela; and a brother, Reyes Vela.
She is survived by her five children, Norberto (Laurie) Lopez, Washougal, WA, Ruben Lopez, Jr., Wilsonville, OR, Joel (Linda) Lopez, Hampshire, TN, Fernando Lopez, Nampa, ID, and Rachel (David) Hopper, Troutdale, OR. Lupe leaves behind 14 grandchildren, James and Bianca Lopez, Gresham, OR, Anthony and Stephannie Lopez, Portland, OR, Dina and Angela Lopez, Omaha, NE, Journey Lopez, Decatur, GA, Caimen Lopez, Boise, ID, Manuel, Lourdes and Ludivina Lopez, Nampa, ID, Erika Hopper, Gresham, OR, Ethan Hopper, Quito, Ecuador, and Emree Hopper, Troutdale, OR. She is survived by 15 great grandchildren, Patricia, Yonne, Maria, Jaina, Chelsea, Oscar, Emilio, Manuel, Rocky, Kinzo, Karina, Izabella, Anastasia, Anthony and Grayson.
She is also survived by five siblings, Gilberto (Hortencia) Vela of Edinburg, Texas, Emilio (Janice) Vela, Maria (+Emilio) Salazar, both of Pharr, Texas, Carlos (Enedelia) Vela of San Juan, Texas, Jesus (Idolina)
Vela, Jr. of Alamo, Texas; one brother-in-law, Roy Gonzalez of Pharr, Texas; one sister-in-law, Anita Vela of Pharr, Texas; many nieces and nephews.
Visitation and Rosary will be held from 4:30 PM to 5:30 PM, at St Bridget’s Catholic Church in Nyssa, Oregon. Funeral mass will take place at 11:00 AM, Saturday January 5, 2019, at St. Bridget’s Catholic Church in Nyssa, followed by a Celebration of Life Gathering at the Church Hall from 12 PM to 3 PM. Interment will follow at 3:30 PM at Evergreen Cemetery in Ontario.
Funeral services are under the direction of Haren-Wood