Amelia Elias Valencia, who had 15 children, was devoted to her family, said her daughter, Sara Mendoza.
“She went to our baseball games when we were younger, and later to all the grandchildren’s events," Mendoza said. "She just made time, no matter what.”
The entire family played softball twice a year and, until she became sick, Valencia joined them.
For most years, Valencia, 78, of South Deering (Chicago), and formerly of Whiting, hosted all the family get-togethers.
“She welcomed her home to anyone and everyone, and would give you the shirt off her back if you needed it,” Mendoza said.
Although beef stroganoff was her specialty, Valencia enjoyed trying new recipes out on her guests.
With so many children and 90 grandchildren and great-grandchildren, Valencia still called everyone on their birthdays, no matter what, Mendoza said.
Caring and giving, Valencia always bought individual Christmas gifts for everyone.
“She started buying presents as soon as Christmas ended,” Mendoza said.
Valencia’s other favorite holidays were Valentine’s Day and Halloween.
“She always dressed up on Halloween,” Mendoza said.
Valencia had a great sense of humor and enjoyed pranking others.
On Valentine’s Day, when a grandchild had a new boyfriend or girlfriend, Valencia would send that person a card from the teen’s sibling. The grandchild would be in on the joke when the boyfriend or girlfriend would get “freaked out” Mendoza said.
Valencia taught her children to value family and to respect.
“With all these children, not one of us went bad,” Mendoza said. “We respected her so much that we couldn’t let her down.”
Valencia's faith was important.
“She taught us about Jesus and how we should pray,” Mendoza said.
Valencia loved to walk around Whiting with her son, who has Down syndrome.
She enjoyed reading, especially murder magazines and about the presidents – Abraham Lincoln was her favorite – and playing Texas Hold 'em with her family.