Ramona Nevarez was a dearly beloved custodial worker at Texas State University where she served for nearly a decade before her death in early February.
She was assigned to the Honors College in Lampasas where she performed more than her daily duties. From the moment Nevarez started working for the university in 2006, she began to cultivate relationships with students, staff and faculty through her generosity and kindness.
“It was as though she was a part of our staff,” said Diann McCabe, Honors College senior lecturer. “She was attentive; she was always smiling; she was very calm, friendly, laughed a lot and was easy to talk to and get to know.”
Nevarez was diagnosed with kidney cancer which led to her retirement in 2015. Through her lively spirit, her presence positively impacted the university community. After her death, McCabe said students wrote tributes to her via social media.
McCabe recalls a time when a student painted a picture for Nevarez to reflect the joy she extended to others.
“When I become an old person and if I am as calm and peaceful and happy as she is, then I will believe I have led a good life,” the former student told McCabe.
Those who resided in Lampasas during Nevarez’s employment said she had a compassionate and easy-going reputation that resembled a caring family member. She extended comfort toward everyone and used her smile to communicate love.
“To get to know someone, you have to break a barrier and cross a boundary, but she was someone who was easy to do that with,” McCabe said. “She was shy but was quick to interact. There was a real spirit about her.”
Melissa Derrick, City Council member Place 6, grew a friendship with Nevarez during her time teaching in the Honors College.
“She was very soft spoken, but always upbeat and happy,” Derrick said. “She always asked how my family was doing, and we would exchange stories about my children and her grandchildren. She was really family to all of us at Lampasas.”
From sweeping floors and cleaning bathrooms to watering the plants and conversing with students, Nevarez was always seen with a smile on her face.
“She really took a lot of pride in the work that she did at the university, and she spent a lot of time talking to people and just spreading happiness,” Derrick said.
A collection of memories was made between Nevarez and the community in Lampasas, but one of the most memorable moments was celebrating her birthday, Derrick said. On special occasions, such as Nevarez’ birthday and around Christmas time, money was donated forher to spend on family.
“She was important to us, and we wanted to celebrate her,” Derrick said. “She was very much a family person, and her grandchildren and her family were everything to her. We knew getting her a present wasn’t going to be as good as giving her money that she could choose to do what she wanted to with her family.”
Texas State recently held its 30th Annual Bobcat Pause Memorial Service April 12 to honor community members who have died within the academic year.
“We use this evening to pause and reflect for those who have left us but will never be forgotten,” said President Denise Trauth at the event.
Nevarez and others were recognized for making a difference at the university.
“There are so many people like her at the university,” Derrick said. “It goes to show you that when you have someone who really shines their love out on everyone that the students remember and feel the connection.”
People in the Honors College said Nevarez is someone who will never be forgotten.
“You encounter people who aren’t faculty or staff, who aren’t students on campus, and it’s easy to look through them… custodians, maintenance workers and so forth,” McCabe said. “It was so wonderful to get to know her.”