Maria Estela Franco-Velez de Almanzar, 97, of Westfield, went home to Christ on May 10, 2022. Born on October 17, 1924 in Santiago, Dominican Republic, Maria was the baby in the family and the only girl.
She grew up playing on her uncle’s farm with her brothers and cousins, riding donkeys and resting under mango trees. She attended local Catholic grade schools and high school, where she played tennis and was the captain of her volleyball team.
As a young adult, Maria fled the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo and settled in New York City, where she met and married William Franco-Velez. They had two children, Denise and Marlene, and lived on Long Island. Maria was a devoted caretaker with a heart for service. She fostered many children over the years, worked in hospitals with disabled patients, and, in her later years, cared for infants and young children.
After she retired, Maria moved to Indiana with William to help raise their grandchildren. Maria was an avid knitter, gardener, and cook, maintaining her hobbies well into her 90’s. She was loved for her vibrant personality, deep devotion to friends and family, and her gumption.
Maria was predeceased by her husband, William Franco-Velez; daughter, Marlene Franco-Velez; parents, Virgilio Almanzar and Ercilia Almanzar de Fernandez; brothers, Virgilio, Alberto, and Fernando Almanzar de Fernandez.
Survivors include her daughter, Denise Smyth, and husband, Jim Smyth; grandchildren, James and wife, Jean, Patricia, Kelly and boyfriend, Todd, David, John, and Cole; great-grandchildren, James, Joanna, Sunny, and Joshua; nephew; Dr. Eduardo Almanzar and wife, Lindaura; nieces, Ana Maria Almanzar, and Laura Sanchez and husband, Marino.
Family and friends will gather Monday, May 16, 2022 at 11 am in Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Catholic Church, where the Mass of Christian Burial will be conducted at 12 noon.
Burial will follow in Union Chapel Cemetery.
Bussell Family Funerals is privileged to assist the family in arrangements.
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