Emmy not only were we co-workers but also very good friends,. Our friendship got even stronger over the years. I have lost a very close and dear friend. Mario and I will always miss your sense of humor and positive thoughts about life.
Our thoughts and prayers are with your family.
On April 19th a part of me died along with you. I don't know how to live life without you, and although it can never be as fulfilling as it was while you were in it, I promise you to continue to be happy and live it on my terms because I know that is what you would have wanted. You were my mother, my teacher and my friend.
As a mother, you filled our lives with love and understanding until your very last day. I felt cherished, loved and protected every single day of my life. You were a gentle force who didn't belittle me or judge me. Your strength, integrity and moral character demanded my respect, and the older I got, the harder it was to do anything that would cause you disappointment or hurt.
Although you raised us with a gentle hand, you didn't tolerate disrespect or any negative attitude. You held us accountable for our bad behavior, and Anita and I knew that if we got “the look”, we were in deep trouble. As Carmen Renee told me, you raised us with so much love, making sure we were surrounded by laughter, fun and things we desired, but at the same time, you were strict to ensure we turned out decent.
As my teacher, you taught me the importance of treating everyone with dignity and respect regardless of who they were. You abhorred arrogance and encouraged humility. In the countless times I complained about somebody, your answer to me was, “don't judge someone until you've walked in their shoes” or you reminded me that everyone has problems.
You taught me to be self-reliant and to always be informed. It got on your nerves when we were ignorant of current events or major news. It was important to you that we researched as much as we could when making decisions. You knew knowledge is power.
More importantly, you led us by example. From your actions, we learned to cook, to be good hostesses, to treat people with kindness, to be decent and honest, to enjoy simple pleasures like the beauty of a garden and the company of loved ones. As our role model, we learned how a classy, cultured lady behaves in all situations, good and bad. You showed us through your generosity how to be selfless and to always think of the needs of others. I struggle at times to get it right, but I promise you to keep it up until I become more like you.
As my friend, you made life fun. It was my favorite pastime to spend time doing anything with you. I loved cooking together, our happy hours with wine and your renowned guacamole and talking on the phone for an hour nearly every day. I could tell you anything, and I knew any resolution to a problem or question I had was a phone call away. I loved playing cards or any game with you, Anita, Mary Belle, Spence and James. You were always up for that and were pretty tough competition.
We shared so many interests, and I will miss our information sharing on nutrition, alternative medicine and politics. I will miss your updates on how Tiger Woods did in the golf, and, of course, watching the Miami Dolphins games together. I will miss our talks about every topic. I learned so much from you. It didn't matter where we were or what we were doing, I enjoyed every second of your company, and it was hard to leave after my visits were done.
My friends knew so much about you. I talked about you all the time, and they wanted to meet you. It seemed odd to me that they didn't express similar feelings about their mothers, but I know you were special. Unique in all the good ways. How lucky I was.
We left a lot of unfinished business like the vegetable garden, the trip to Vegas with James later this year, this upcoming football season and so, so much more. Life for me will never be the same, but I promise you to always strive to be the best person I can be, just as you lived your life. I couldn't have asked for a better example of what it means to be decent, selfless and every other beautiful quality a person could have. You had them all.
You were my guiding light and my best friend.
I will love you forever.
To Emmy's family - She was a lovely lady. Always with a smile on her face. I remember her with much fondness.
Queridas Anita y Virginia:
Mi más sentido pésame por la pérdida de una gran señora, mis oraciones están con ustedes y estoy segura que ya en el cielo billa una estrella más.
Carlos Velis's heart-felt message: (translated by Anita Spence)
Emmy, my stepmother, a great lady. She has left a deep mark. She taught me to cultivate kindness, tolerance, to respect everyone, especially the humble.
I enjoyed many happy and unforgettable moments at her home, where I felt protected, loved and respected. I shared many laughs with my young sisters, Anita and Virginia.
It was Emmy who taught me the values of the great nation to the North, where she lived in another era. That nation is gone.
Now she's departed, but her imprint of generosity remains in her descendants. Some people teach through negativity, inflicting pain in their teachings. She was a teacher of positivity. She taught us through her positive stimulation, her sincere smile, her sense of humor, her sharp mind, her manners. It was through her that I learned to appreciate jazz, the baroque style, and so many things.
She will always live in our hearts.
I really wanted to travel from Tupelo, MS to Greensboro to show my last respects to a great lady and dear friend whom I have known for 35 years. My wife Isabel and I are grief stricken and in shock on how fast our dear Emmy has passed away. We talked on the phone almost daily and shared a lot of memories together; I spoke to her about 7 PM the night before she died. She always had pleasant things to say about everyone and kind words for all. We will miss her tremendously. I know someday I will meet up again with Emmy.
Life is so short; please spend as much quality time with your family and friends as you can.
We love you
Isabel and James
A PILLAR OF STRENGTH
The dictionary defines “Pillar of Strength” as a person who can be relied on to give a great deal of support and comfort. My mother was a true Pillar of Strength. Everyone who knew her relied on her for sound advice, a friendly chat, a kept promise, a helping hand. She always took the time and effort to help others. She touched so many lives in North Carolina, Washington, DC, Miami, and El Salvador, and all can attest to what a gentle kind soul she was. Neighbors, co-workers, acquaintances, friends and relatives all felt understood and welcome to her home.
Her house was the place where everyone gravitated to. It was where we could always find a warm meal, a hot cup of tea, and a comfortable seat to relax in. Whenever she expected guests, she made sure she prepared their favorite dishes.
My Mom's house had a healing energy. Mike, Mary Belle and I would go to her living room couch to sleep the afternoon away whenever we felt under the weather. Being at her house was all about experiencing comfort food for the soul and tummy.
Some very important qualities I learned from my Mom were to have compassion, strive to do my best in every endeavor, to honor commitments, to always look at the positive side of any situation, and most importantly, I learned from her to make necessary adjustments in life in order to overcome adversities and cope with them.
My Mom leaves behind a great legacy!
I love you Mom. May you rest in peace…
Your loving daughter, Anita
Barbara and family, My heart goes out to you during this difficult time. Emmy will always be in my memory and in my heart.
Anita and Virginia: We are so sorry for your loss. I really tried to make it to Greensboro but my MS acted up. Emmy will always have a special place in our hearts. James and Isabel Ellison
Queridas Anita y Virginia: todos los que conocimos a tu mami, tenemos bellos recuerdos de ella y su ausencia deja un espacio vacio en nuestras vidas. Ustedes pueden sentirse orgullosas por haber sido unas hijas que estuvieron siempre presente para ella y estoy segura que ahora tienen un angel cuidando de ustedes desde el cielo.
Nuestro cariño de siempre para ustedes!!!
Anita mi mas sentido pesame. Mi corazon esta con usted en este momento de sufrimiento. La mantendre en mis oraciones. Bendiciones
Virginia and Anita, I am so very sorry for your loss!!!! Ms. Emma was a very special lady and she will be greatly missed! Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers! Love to you, Cheryl White and family
To Anita & Virginia Velis
I am very sorry for the loss of your mother
May she rest in Peace she will be miss by many and will be in my prayers
Robert Pierre Laforest
11335 S.W.70th Terrace
Miami ,Florida 33173-1909
Emma was an invaluable & vital part of our extended family.
We always loved spending the holidays with your family; the girls on Halloween,
Christmas & New Year's Eve playing games with great food and great company!
She was such a joy in our lives and we will truly miss her.
All our love,
Nancy, John & Stephanie Branco
Emma and I shared much. She was sweet, smart, strong. I am sorry for your loss.
To Anita and your family,
We are so sorry for the loss of your mother last week. I know you will miss her terribly. You are in our thoughts and prayers.
My deepest sympathy to the family of Emma. I always enjoyed speaking with Ms. Velis over the phone....I only wish that could have met her. Cheryl at Rick Kepler State Farm Insurance
Anita - my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. I'm so sorry for your loss.
"Emmy, una gran amiga y una persona muy especial para mi, que vivira
siempre en mi corazon y que recordare con mucho carino.
Julie Garden (El Salvador)
Emmy, my heart goes out to your family, thank you for all your help and your wonderful and gracious attitude in all matters. You were a breath of fresh air knowing you could do anything that came your way. You will have a special place in my memories from our mannyhanny days, your friend, regan
Barbara, my prayers go out today for you and your family in the loss of your sister, Emmy. I was having lunch with the Hamilton Village "lunch bunch" when we heard the news. Emmy had said she was coming. But God was kind and loving to Emmy. He came and took her swiftly away to be with Him. May God bless and comfort you and your family. Jean Seawell Rankin - Class of '55
Emmy, siempre vivira en mi pensamiento y en mi corazon y siempre recordare su bondad, amistad y carino que me brindo desde que la conoci. Gracias por haber sido tan especial conmigo La quiero mucho asi como a Anita y Virginia a quienes acompano desde el fondo de mi corazon en estos momentos tan tristes. Un fuerte abrazo y un gran beso y mi mas sentido pesame.
Emmy, mi madrastra, una gran mujer.
Ha dejado una onda huella. Me enseñó a cultivar la dulzura, la tolerancia, el respeto por todo el mundo, en especial a los humildes.
Horas muy felices e inolvidables viví en su casa, donde me sentí protegido, amado y respetado. Con mis hermanitas, Anita y Virginia, abundaron las risas.
De Emmy aprendí el valor de la gran nación del Norte, donde ella vivió en otra época, una nación que ya no existe más.
Ahora se ha ido, pero en sus descendientes, queda la huella de su bondad. Hay personas que son maestras por lo negativo, que te hacen aprender por el dolor; ella fue maestra de lo positivo. Nos enseñó con su estímulo positivo, su risa franca, su sentido del humor, su chispa mental, su cultura. De ella aprendí a amar el jazz, los barrocos, tantas cosas.
Siempre va a vivir en nuestros corazones.