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DOWNEY − In honor of the late Elaine Lopez, Messiah Lutheran Church this month dedicated a new flower garden and toddler playground to the former Downey teacher and community volunteer, who died last August.
“We did this to perpetuate the memory of my wife,” said Dave Lopez, who was married to Elaine for 43 years. “We’ve been going to the church since 1977. She loved this church and she loved kids so we asked the pastor if we could honor her — a fabulous woman and wonderful wife.”
Born in Huntington Park and raised in South Gate, Elaine Lopez spent 15 years teaching in the Downey Unified School District, including Alameda and Maude Price elementary schools.
In addition to her service work with the PTA, Lopez also volunteered with the Assistance League of Downey, the Downey Junior Woman’s Club, the Downey YMCA, DJAA, Delta Kappa Gamma and other organizations.
“She died after a lengthy illness, but it was still unexpected,” said Dave, a longtime reporter for CBS 2 news. “We thought we’d plant a colorful garden with living things — she loved flowers.”
On March 2, nearly 275 people attended a dedication ceremony for the garden and playground, which sits just steps away from the church’s nursery.
“Elaine was such a warm person,” said John Genter, pastor of Messiah Lutheran Church. “There are those certain people who make you feel really comfortable and just put you at ease. She was very positive even with all of the different ailments she was going through.”
Now open to the public during the daytime, the decorative garden features a teal vase fountain, bubbling with water and flanked by two oak wood benches. A gray slate pathway, surrounded by roses and Easter lilies, also leads visitors to a primary-colored play station for kids 5 and under.
A charcoal plaque nearby reads: “Elaine loved this church. She loved making people happy and she wore a perpetual smile on her face. Enjoy these grounds, smile, be happy and thank God for all the blessings He has given you.”
Published: March 27, 2014 – Volume 12 – Issue 50