Maria Isabel Rivera Leal
April 13, 1941 – April 13, 2016
It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to our beloved “Mari” who passed away Wednesday, April 13, 2016, on her 75th birthday, after a four-year battle with ALS. Mari leaves behind her husband, Gabriel, her daughter Gabriela and son in-law Mauricio and their children (Cristina and Fabricio), her son Carlos and daughter in-law Madelen and their children (Alessandro and Lucia), and her son Patricio.
Mari was born in Coronel, Chile, and was the eldest of five children. She had a wonderful childhood and grew up next to the ocean and close to nature. An intelligent and curious child, her family members doted on her and nurtured her passion for education and literature. She married Gabriel in 1960 and became an elementary school teacher.
After Chile’s military coup in 1973, Gabriel escaped to Argentina and brought Mari and the children over, eventually landing in Canada in September of 1975 to start a new chapter in their lives. The Riveras were one of the first Chilean families to arrive in Edmonton, and they pulled together with other families as they faced the many challenges of becoming new Canadians. Mari became an active member of the Chilean-Canadian community and was a teacher at Salvador Allende Spanish School, helping many kids to preserve their language and customs. After raising their children and eldest grandchildren, Mari and Gabriel retired and enjoyed splitting their time between Chile, Edmonton and Vancouver.
To meet Mari was to love Mari. She was a gentle, kind and patient soul. She loved cooking, reading, gardening and knitting, and took pleasure in all the simple things in life. She had a gift for telling stories, and enjoyed sharing her wisdom and knowledge with those around her. Her sweet, calm and soothing personality put everyone at ease, and her beautiful smile lit up a room. She had many adventures on family camping and hiking trips across BC and Alberta, and we shared many special moments with her in the outdoors. Mari will be greatly missed by family members and friends in both Canada and Chile.
Despite the hardship of being diagnosed with ALS, a terminal disease, Mari handled herself with strength, bravery and grace at every moment. Selfless until the very end, Mari consented to an autopsy to contribute to ALS research. Our family is very grateful to all the staff members at the ALS Society of Alberta for helping us through our ALS journey and allowing Mari to face the disease with support and dignity. We are also eternally grateful to her amazing caregiver, Sarah, who went above and beyond in her devotion to Mari, and cared for her lovingly every day. A special thank you to Dr. Kalra, Dr. Heule, Dr. Janice and their teams for all their support. Finally, we thank the palliative care nursing staff from Alberta Health Services, who helped us to care for Mari 24/7 in her last days so she could pass at home peacefully, and especially nurse practitioner Madeleine, who was by our side during Mari’s final moments.
In lieu of flowers, the family would greatly appreciate donations to the Edmonton Walk for ALS (June 11, 2016 at Hawrelak Park). Please visit http://walkforals.ca/find-a-walk/alberta and make a donation by searching for our family’s team, Mari’s Mighty Warriors.
Mari’s Celebration of Life
Sunday, April 24th, 2016, 2:00 p.m.
Trinity Funeral Home
10530-116 Street NW
Edmonton, AB T5H 3L7
Deseo expresar mis recuerdos por la compañera Mari. Como muchas familias de Chile llegamos a Edmonton Canadá a vivir una nueva vida lejos de nuestro país que sufría la dictadura. Nuestros hijos conocieron y disfrutaron de la creación de la escuela Salvador Allende en la ciudad, escuela que nos mantuvo cerca de nuestra lengua materna para que nuestros hijos pudieran aprenderla. El esfuerzo de todos por este logro nos dio fuerzas para seguir adelante en la lucha en contra de la dictadura impuesta en nuestro país. Y sin saberlo por aquellos tiempos la profesora Mari siempre con su eterna sonrisa a flor de labios para los niños nuestros me dejo un recuerdo que hoy día se entrecruza con nuestras vidas porque la profesora Mari con el tiempo se transformo en la suegra de una de sus alumnas y hoy día en la abuela de dos de los niños de mi hija Madelen. Para ti compañera Mari mis mejores recuerdos que se quedan en la alegría de nuestros nietos. Arturo Ortega M de Buin Chile.
Dear Gabriela Rivera’s family:
Please receive our deepest condolences for the loss of your Mother, grandmother. She will be deeply miss by all of us who knew her.
Nuestra condolencia y solidaridad con Gabriel Rivera y Familia ante el fallecimiento de Maria (QEPD). Que los recuerdos de su vida y logros sirva de consuelo ante vuestra perdida.
Gloria y Ramon Antipan
I would like to send you my deepest sympathies. I did not know Mari directly , but I always heard Madelen speak so highly of her. I cannot even imagine how you are all feeling. I will continue to keep you in my thoughts and pray for all of you during this time.
I apologize for your lose of Mari.
She well be missed.
Carlos, Maria, and families…
Our hearts go out to all of you. For the very little that we knew her, know that Mari will not be forgotten – her sweet smile and gentle demeanour.
You’re all in our thoughts.
We never had the pleasure of meeting Mari, but we know Carlos and his family and are deeply saddened by their loss. Our thoughts are with you!
Please accept my deepest condolences on the passing of your dear loved one . Are we not truly blessed with the hope our Creator has given us of seeing our loved ones again. God’s loving comfort from the scriptures brings us much relief and confidence in the blessings of His New Kingdom. At Revelation 21:4, John 5:28, and Isaiah 35:5,6 He promises to end death and sickness and to resurrect our dead loved ones. Soon he will wipe out every tear from our eyes so we can live in peace and happiness with those we love in his promised New Kingdom here on earth. Soon we will have no reason to grieve anymore. My hope is that you can take comfort from God’s word and that it will also comfort you when you think of your loved one.
My deepest condolences to you and your family Maria. I had the honour of meeting your mom once. And I remember how beautiful and kind she was inside and out. May she rest in peace now with our lord and watch over your family. Our thoughts are with you.
It is with great sadness that we say good bye to a kind caring and devoted ” compañia”. Your smile and your amazing grace will surly be missed in the Chilean community.