Life Story / Obituary
All who knew Elena Cruz would agree that she was truly beautiful on the inside and out. She worked hard in everything she did, but she also made the time to enjoy life along the way. Although she treasured her role as a mother, Elena just might have argued that nothing was better than becoming a grandmother later in life. Someone who could make anyone laugh, her zest for life was contagious to all who were near. Life will never be the same without Elena here, but she leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that her loved ones will forever hold near and dear to their hearts.
It was in the 1940s that the United States began establishing naval bases on the island of Puerto Rico. By 1945 there were large numbers of Puerto Ricans emigrating to the United States, and in 1947 President Harry S. Truman passed the Elective Governors Act, which allowed Puerto Rico to elect its own governor. It was during this eventful time that Esteban and Dolores Cruz were filled with great anticipation as they awaited the birth of their new baby. Their wait was finally over when the baby girl they named Elena drew her first breath on August 13, 1942. Born in Ponce, Ciales, Puerto Rico, she was one of 15 Cruz children, although two died at birth. To support their family, Elena’s father was a successful farmer while her mother had more than enough to keep her busy at home.
It was as a young girl that Elena’s vibrant personality took root. Even then she loved making others laugh and was known as a prankster. Perhaps it was due in part to being part of a large family, but Elena often spoke of all the mischief she and her siblings often found themselves in. On one such occasion, she was working out in the fields with her brothers when lizards were placed on her back. Elena was less than thrilled and went running through the fields screaming while trying to get her shirt off. This left her father and siblings cackling as they watched her antics. Elena was known for her strong work ethic throughout her life, and farm life meant they were a family of early risers who often put in long hours whether they were tending to cattle or picking native island foods such as plantains and avocados.
Although the majority of her family still resides primarily in the central mountain region of Puerto Rico, Elena was ready to say goodbye to all the responsibilities that come with being born into a farm family business. Longing for city life, she moved to Chicago and started a new life. Elena found work as an assembly line worker at Electrical Windings, which is where she spent her entire career.
Nothing was of greater significance to Elena than her loved ones. She was blessed with the births of two daughters, Maria and Marisol, and as mothers go she was second to none. She singlehandedly raised her daughters, and Elena always, always, always put the needs of her girls ahead of her own. Although she could be strict, it was only when needed, and she was there to support both Maria and Marisol in everything they did. Fiercely protective of her children, Elena’s daughters always knew that they were each uniquely loved without condition. Later in life, she was over the moon thrilled to become a grandmother, and it was easy to see that her precious Osvaldo was her greatest source of pride and joy. Spending time with her loved ones always topped her list.
Throughout her life Elena was a woman of many interests. Although Puerto Rican food was her favorite, she was open to trying any kind of food as she was a true foodie at heart. Elena loved merengue music, and it has been said that she would dance it anytime she was given the chance no matter the setting.
With a life that spanned times of great change in the world around her, Elena Cruz was a blessing in the lives of so many. She was the sort of person who never met a stranger, and she was very funny, too. Protective, selfless, and loving of her family, Elena’s greatest gift was not found in anything she owned but in her daughters and grandson. Although she was taken from her loved ones too soon, she will never be forgotten.
Died on October 29, 2021 in Grand Rapids. Elena was a single mother that is survived by two daughters, Maria Orta and Marisol Cruz, and her precious grandson, Osvaldo Terry