Cover photo for Zoila Maria Rivera's Obituary
Zoila Maria Rivera Profile Photo
1930 Zoila 2021

Zoila Maria Rivera

February 19, 1930 — December 10, 2021

Zoila María (Cerillo) Rivera was called home to be with our Lord on Friday, December 10, 2021, in El Paso, TX. Zoila entered this life on February 19, 1930, in Charcas, San Luis, Potosi, Mexico, the second daughter of María de Jesús Sánchez Quiroz and Carlos Cerrillo Peréz. Her father worked for Ferrocarriles Nacionales de Mexico, overseeing the railroad station there where they resided for about six years until her parents separated. Zoila’s mother moved to Monterrey with her three children, her mother Susana Quiroz Araiza, and her sister María de la Luz Sánchez Quiroz (Tía Mariquita) to pursue a better quality of life. Shortly after their arrival in Monterrey, Zoila’s mother passed away. Her grandmother Susanita and Tía Mariquita took responsibility of raising and educating the three children. In 1938 at the age of seventeen, Tía Mariquita married Samuel Gutiérrez Orta (Tío Samuel), and they raised the three siblings as if they were their own, providing them a wonderful home, education, and good life. Her siblings Georgina and Carlos studied administration and Zoila María studied Nursing, earning her degree from La Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León on December 14, 1948, at the age of 18. Zoila began her career in the city of Monclova, Coahuila at the clinic of the Fundición de Fierro Company, where she worked 18 months until she received an invitation from the United States Government to work as a nurse in the U.S due to a shortage of medical personnel during the Korean War. Zoila accepted the offer and moved to San Antonio, TX to work at Santa Rosa Hospital, at the age of 20. Within two years, she was promoted to head of pediatric nurses. She loved being a nurse and her eyes would light up as she often reminisced of her days as a young nurse, living in the hospital dormitories and going out dancing with her fellow nurse mates though she also shared how much she missed her family in Mexico. It was on one of those nights while out dancing with her friends, that she met the love of her life, and a 48-year union began! José Reyes Rivera had recently returned from the Korean War, stationed in San Antonio and was out with his best friend Chuck. The courtship began with José waiting outside the hospital every day at the end of her shift. Zoila visited her family in Monterrey frequently and on one of those trips, José Reyes decided to follow Zoila’s bus from San Antonio to Monterrey, (accompanied by Chuck) to formalize their courtship and surprise her with a marriage proposal in the presence of Tío Samuel and Tía Mariquita. A few months later, they culminated their relationship with a wedding in the outskirts of the city of Monterrey on January 31, 1954. Zoila left the nursing profession to support her husband’s 28-year army career and raise their eventual 6 sons. Their army career took them to Fort Bliss, TX; Schofield Barracks, HI; Ft. Benning, GA; Fort Knox, KY; a year with her in-laws in Santa Fe, NM while her husband was stationed in Korea, and then back to Fort Bliss, TX in 1964 where she resided until her death. Zoila was a devout Catholic of strong faith and raised her sons by her example of sacrifice and service to others, hard work, and taught them that dedication to the people you love will bring fulfillment in life. She ensured that her sons attended Church every week from the time they were small children until they graduated from high school. Zoila was a devoted wife and mother who instilled strong values in her sons preparing them to be good men, husbands, fathers and providers for their families which made her proud. She was a member of an El Paso Carmelite Order and will be buried with the Brown Scapular at her request. Zoila initially taught herself to speak English by watching I Love Lucy, and later took English as a second language at El Paso Community College. She learned to drive while residing in Santa Fe, taught by her husband’s Tío Antonio so that she would not have to bother her father-in-law to drive her to Albuquerque to get groceries at the commissary. She encouraged her sons to work hard and assigned them tasks such as helping when she made tamales, enchiladas, and menudo. Zoila was an excellent cook, her menudo was like none other as were her large pots of beans! She enjoyed attending her son’s tennis matches and little league baseball games and was one of the loudest fans in the stands! Zoila participated in a bowling league with her husband for many years and her sons fondly remember the fun they had at family bowling nights! Zoila’s sons became excellent poker players because of family poker nights with mom! She and her son Miguel played cards every night well into her golden years and they enjoyed playing cards when her sons, their wives and her grandchildren came to visit. Zoila faithfully read the daily newspaper to keep up with current events into her 80s. She looked forward to going out to dinner with her sons and their families and relished a good Piña Colada! Zoila was a stylish dresser and kept a meticulous home. She enjoyed going to the YMCA for aerobics classes and spending time in the pool. Later in life her dog Pete became her close companion and she cared for him like her seventh son. In the last years of her life, she looked forward to and enjoyed visits to see her family in Monterrey with her sons Miguel and Lionel and daughter-in-law Lynn and appreciated the gracious hospitality of her family. In her early 60s, her husband fell ill and alongside her youngest son Matías, they spent the following ten years caring for him until he passed in 2002. Zoila was diagnosed with dementia in her late 70s with the disease progressively worsening throughout the rest of her life until she eventually passed away from related complications. Zoila was Blessed with the loving care of her youngest son Matías who was her primary caregiver with the help and support of his wife Shannon. Their care provided her a better quality of life than she would have had anywhere else. Our family is forever grateful for the sacrifices they made to allow our mom to live in her home until she passed. Zoila was preceded in death by her parents María de Jesús Sánchez Quiroz and Carlos Cerrillo Peréz; Tía María de la Luz Sánchez Quiroz (Mariquita) and Tío Samuel Gutiérrez Orta; husband José Reyes Rivera Sr.; brother Carlos Cerillo Sánchez, and daughter-in-law Maria Nicole Rivera. She is survived by her sister Georgina Cerillo Sánchez of Monterrey, MX; her sons Armando (Rosie) Rivera of Midland, TX; Lionel (Lynn) Rivera of Colorado Springs, CO; José Reyes Jr. (Julie) Rivera of Colorado Springs, CO; Samuel (Kristen) Rivera of Rio Rancho, NM; Miguel Rivera of El Paso, TX and Matías (Shannon) Rivera of El Paso, TX. Zoila is also survived by 11 grandchildren, 6 great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews. Viewing will be from 4:00 p.m.- 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, December 29, 2021, with the recital of the Holy Rosary at 6:00p.m., followed by the eulogy at Sunset Funeral Home Northeast, 4631 Hondo Pass Dr., El Paso, TX. Funeral Mass will take place at 11:30a.m. on Thursday, December 30, 2021, at Blessed Sacrament Church 9025 Diana Dr., El Paso TX, followed by interment at Ft. Bliss National Cemetery at 1:00 p.m. Pallbearers are her sons Lionel, José, Samuel, Miguel and grandsons Eric Rivera and Adam Rivera. To send flowers or a memorial gift to the family of Zoila Maria Rivera please visit our Sympathy Store.
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