Smart, beautiful and caring are three ways people that knew Adela Vasquez are describing her Wednesday following her passing Jan. 3.

The longtime Ector County ISD counselor, assistant principal and spokeswoman, died at age 72 in Odessa. A mass will be celebrated for her at 10 a.m. Jan. 8 at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church.

Burial will follow at Sunset Memorial Gardens.

Fr. Joe Barbieri will officiate. Arrangements are by Sunset Memorial Gardens and Funeral Home of Odessa.

“She was one of the smartest people I have ever known,” said Delma Abalos, an ECISD trustee and longtime friend of Vasquez.

“I appreciated her friendship. She was a true, loyal friend, and besides that she was just such an advocate for kids at risk,” Abalos said. “She did her counseling for so many years and I know she had to have touched thousands of lives.”

Abalos said she and Vasquez both went to Ector, which was grades seven through 12 at the time.

“I was in junior high and she was in high school because it was seventh through 12th and so the yearbook always included everyone. I used to look through the yearbook and see her. I didn’t know her. She was such a role model even back then when she was just a high school senior,” Abalos said.

“I just always remember seeing her picture and being so impressed by her and then later on when I met her I told her that I used to look through the annual and see her and I just thought she was beautiful. Later on, I got to know her brother, but I still didn’t know Adela because Adela was a little bit older than her brother. Then when I did get to know her, what I remember about her is her loyalty, her passion, her care for kids … ,” she added.

“She just took it all to heart and she cared. She cared about people. She cared about those kids,” Abalos said.

Vasquez’ birthday is May 11 and Abalos’ birthday is May 12.

“She always made sure that me, her and another group of friends got together for lunch or dinner for our birthdays. Then we always did it again in December. This last December, we really missed her. We didn’t do it. She was who would get us together, so I will truly miss her friendship because she was always there. When my husband died, she called me to check on me all the time,” Abalos said.

“ECISD could not have had a better employee than Adela Vasquez because she truly cared for kids,” she added.

Abalos said there were so many things Vasquez could do.

“And like I said, she was one of the smartest people I knew. But besides that, she was classy. She was always a lady. She handled herself really well all the time,” Abalos added.

She added that her daughters also looked up to Vasquez as a role model.

Vickie Gomez, retention officer and former ECISD board member, said Vasquez was beautiful inside and out and the most caring friend anyone could have.

Gomez said she knew Vasquez for at least 60 years and has known her family forever.

“She was so professional. She worked for the school district. She was over the SAS (Student Assistance Services) counselors. When it came to students, she wanted to ensure that every child that she came in contact with, that her counselors came in contact with were treated with respect and dignity and assisted in every way they could,” Gomez said.

“Her counselors dealt with kids with all kinds of issues, so she was on top of things there. She just was very professional in her career,” she added.

Gomez is a co-founder of the Mexican-American Scholarship Committee and Vasquez and her husband, Gilbert, always wanted to make sure that the scholarship helped students in need.

She added that Vasquez was a very religious person – a Christian in every sense of the word.

They didn’t get together much, but stayed in touch through texting. Gomez said the last one she got was right around Thanksgiving.

“… She’s just a loss to so many people. …” Gomez said.

“She’s just an awesome, awesome person …,” she added.