Rachel Hernandez taught her children the importance of being a close-knit family.
Her love for her seven grandchildren and three great grandchildren was special, daughter Anita Gerodimos said.
“She liked spending time with them,” Gerodimos said. “When I was pregnant with my second child she retired from work so she could watch my kids.”
Hernandez went on her granddaughter’s field trips and even chaperoned a high school class trip to Mexico.
“She snuck the girls out to go dancing,” Gerodimos said. “She said ‘we didn’t come to Mexico just to sit around. We are going to go dancing.’ She was a rascal.”
Hernandez, 85, of Merrillville, hosted the family Christmas Eve gatherings. While living in Joliet, Illinois, Hernandez met her late husband, Ralph, who lived in Gary, when his aunt threw a dance/party for him upon his safe return from military service. Gerodimos said her mom thought Ralph, who didn’t have a car, wouldn’t visit her but he did by taking the bus.
The couple enjoyed traveling after Ralph retired especially their annual trip to Las Vegas with their siblings. They visited their grandson who was in the military and their granddaughter when she was homesick at college in Iowa.
Hernandez was cafeteria supervisor at St. Mary’s Hospital in Gary for 15 years. She enjoyed her job, working many doctors’ dinners.
“She always said don’t forget presentation,” Gerodimos said. “She said make sure you have everything ready before time.”
A Catholic, Hernandez belonged to Our Lady of Consolation Church. She and Judy Heck, a former co-worker and her best friend of 40 years, went to church together.
Earlier in her life, Hernandez enjoyed embroidery and ceramics. She had a lifelong love of going to the movies.
“One time while I was on vacation, we went to movies five days in a row,” Gerodimos said.
Gerodimos said she will miss her movie partner and talking to her mom every day.