Silver Valley to dedicate baseball field to former custodian
YERMO • Her friends and family are convinced Romona ‘Mona’ Lopez would not openly want to be recognized with a field named after her.
They’re also convinced that no one deserves it more.
Silver Valley Unified School District will honor former custodian Lopez, who died in 2008, by naming its baseball field after her in a dedication ceremony at 3 p.m. Monday. The ceremony is open to the public and will take place at the baseball field at Silver Valley High School before moving to the district office for refreshments. The district is also dedicating a park bench, which will arrive at a later date, outside the district office to Lopez.
Both Romona and her husband Joe were active in baseball and softball. They coached teams at the high school and youth levels around Silver Valley.
Lopez was known around Silver Valley, where she worked for 29 years, as a kind custodian who went well beyond cleaning, according coworkers. When students needed extra clothes, food, sports equipment or school supplies Lopez donated to them. She paid for caps and gowns for students who couldn’t afford them and set up a scholarship fund at the school. She had a passion for people.
“She was a leader and a mentor for everybody at the school,” said Mike Garcia, head custodian and former Silver Valley baseball coach. “She was a mother and a friend. She was great.”
Lopez deflected any attention brought about by her acts of kindness. Those who knew her are sure she’d do the same if someone told her a baseball field would be named after her.
“She would have hung us by our toes and said, ‘No way. No how. You are not doing this.’ ” said Linda Johnson, informations support specialist for SVUSD, with a laugh.
“She didn’t do the things she did for recognition,” Garcia said. “I think she’d try to discourage it.”
Lopez worked behind the scenes in order to help others. Johnson recalls a scholarship fundraiser at the high school one year. Lopez made batches and batches of tamales at her home in Daggett and drove to Silver Valley for the fundraiser that made $2,000.
“She wouldn’t make a speech or nothing” said Debbie Ehresman, Account Technician for SVUSD. “She’d just make the tamales.”
The move to dedicate the field to Lopez started earlier this year when the California School Employees Association Chapter 374 at Silver Valley approached the school board about the idea. It was approved quickly.
“When they told me about it, I thought, “If anybody deserves it, that’s Mona.’ ” Romona’s daughter-in-law Hope Lopez said.
Romona was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2007. By the time it was discovered, the cancer was spreading. Romona kept working. When she became too ill to work in April 2008, she still told the school she’d return one day. She eventually died in May at 70 years old.
Now her name will stay at Silver Valley for years to come.
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