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Obituary of Elena M. Rivas
Elena M. Rivas, 91, left this world to join her heavenly father in heaven on January 9, 2023. Elena’s last residence was Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.
Born in Peoria, Illinois to Aldulfo and Maria (Garcia) Gonzalez, on December 4, 1931. She moved at the age of two to Guadalajara Mexico, with her mother and two younger siblings. After her mom’s passing, at the age of 8, she returned to Peoria, Illinois, to be with her father and older brothers and sisters.
Elena praises the sisters of St. Patrick’s Church in Peoria who taught her English and assisted her father with her family’s needs. Elena first met her future husband, Henry Rivas, at the age of 10. She and Henry married in 1951. Together, they raised three children. They were able to enjoy the privilege of celebrating their 50th wedding. In 2016, Elena moved to Hilton Head, South Carolina and later moved to Lake Wales, Florida. She spent her last two years in Hilton Head, South Carolina.
For over 50 years, Elena was a dedicated servant to her church; St Johns Church and then St. Ann Catholic Church where she loved singing in the choir.
Elena’s last employer was District 150 where she retired in 1997. Elena was an avid volunteer for RSVP (Retired and Senior Volunteer Program) where she was honored to receive the Volunteer Heart of Gold Award. Other volunteer affiliations included the Salvation Army and Susan G. Koman Center, Race for the Cure. She spent her afternoons at Peoria’s Friendship House of Christian Services where she was able to communicate the needs of the Hispanic community. She managed the Thrift Shop at the Friendship House, managed the Knights of Columbus (KC) kitchen on Tuesday night Bingo where she served some of her famous Mexican dishes, and served the KC’s famous Catfish on the first Friday of every month. To maintain her active schedule, she exercised at the First Baptist Church and swam three days a week; she was definitely a dedicated servant to her community.
Elena is survived by two daughters, Felipa (Cecil) Brown, Hilton Head South Carolina, and Veronica (Bill) Schmeilski, Lake Wales, Florida; 14 grandchildren, Jeff (Cori) Rivas, Stacey Rivas, Thomas (Tisha) Duncan, Matt (Jennifer) Duncan, Jamie Duncan, Wesley (Carolina) Schmeilski, Rico (Jennifer) Rivas, Aaron (Jessica) Schmeilski, Carlos (Jess), Rivas, Brittany Ann Rivas, Britny K. Rivas, Adam Rivas, Shay Rivas, Kade Rivas, 28 great grandchildren, and one great-great grandchild.
Elena was preceded in death by her husband, Henry, her son; Ricardo and his wife, Giovanna K. Rivas, her brothers, Victor, Joseph, Benito, and Alexandro Gonzalez; three sisters, Maria (Concha) Concepcion, Patricia Julia Gonzalez and Alice Razo.
Lena will be laid to rest with her husband Henry at St. Mary’s Cemetery in West Peoria, Illinois. Services are Friday, February 10, at 11:00 a.m., at St. Ann Church, 1010 S. Louisa Street, Peoria, IL. Visitation is at 10:00 a.m, one hour before service. Elena’s Celebration of Life is at St. Ann’s Church Hall directly after her service.
Donations can be made to St. Ann’s Parish, 1010 S. Louisa St., Peoria, Illinois, 61605.