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Maria Estela Franco-Velez de Almanzar

October 17, 1924 – May 10, 2022

Maria Estela Franco-Velez de Almanzar, 97, of Westfield, went home to Christ on May 10, 2022.

She was born on October 17, 1924 in Santiago, Dominican Republic, the baby in the family and the only girl.

Mrs. Franco-Velez 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, she 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. Mrs. Franco-Velez 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, she moved to Indiana with William to help raise their grandchildren. Mrs. Franco-Velez was an avid knitter, gardener, and cook, maintaining her hobbies well into her 90’s. She was loved for her vibrant personality, her deep devotion to friends and family, and her gumption.

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.

She was preceded in death by her husband William Franco-Vele; daughter Marlene Franco-Velez; parents Virgilio Almanzar and Ercilia Almanzar de Fernandez; and three brothers Virgilio, Alberto and Fernando Almanzar de Fernandez.

Family and friends are scheduled to gather Monday, May 16, 2022 at 11 a.m. in Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Catholic Church, where the Mass of Christian Burial is scheduled to be conducted at 12 p.m.

Burial will follow in Union Chapel Cemetery.

Bussell Family Funerals is privileged to assist the family in arrangements.