Family, friends mourn educator who passed from COVID-19

Local News

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — A beloved teacher, director and friend is how those who knew her describe Maria Garza, a member of the Child Care Partners family who lost her battle to COVID-19 last Friday.

Maria started out as a teacher and worked her way up to director where she served for 20 years.

Now her family honor her memories but also tell community members to heed the warning.

“Please I am begging anyone who would actually listen, just please take this seriously,” Maria’s daughter Esperanza Garza said.

In a matter of weeks, 17-year-old Esperanza Mia Garza lost both her dad and her mom Maria Garza, former director of the Hershel Zale Child Care Center to the virus that took 2020 like a storm, COVID-19.

“I thought my parents could fight it because they are really tough people, they don’t back down from anything and usually they survive stuff,” Esperanza Garza said.

And what a fight it has been.

“Maria no doubt this woman was a fighter, she has two children, Esperanza who was 17 and we knew she was gonna fight to get back to her kids and she was on the ventilator for almost an entire month,” Executive Director of Child Care Partners Keri Goins said

Maria’s friend and colleague, Goins, said Maria was the heart of the center where she spent the last 33 years, so this a huge loss.

“It’s a whole different kind of loss because it is keeping us from one another,” Goins said. “She’s probably taken care of over 4,000 kids in the last 30 somewhat years and mentored thousands of moms, not all of us were lucky to have a strong mother figure in our lives and Maria has been a strong mother figure to every mom who drops their kids off through those doors.”

Maria’s son Nathan Avila who has been taking care of his sister said his mom taught him the importance of family and hard work.

“Mom would always say unless you’re dying, go to work, laughter, this was her life, she loved making every day for these kids special that was her mission every day when she woke up and came to work was to make every day special for these kids just like she made our childhood special because we never went without, she provided us with so much any child could ask for and I’m just grateful,” Avila said. “I’m at peace that my mother is at peace, she is no longer suffering, she is not intubated.”

Goins, Garza and Avila said they hope Maria’s legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of all the kids, parents and others she inspired.

Nathan and Esperanza also want to encourage everyone to do their part in slowing the spread of this virus.

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