Trinity community pays tribute to Lucía Mendoza

Faculty and staff remember their ‘kind,’ ‘radiant’ co-worker



Lucía Mendoza with her daughters.

To donate to Lucía Mendoza’s family, please send any and all donations to Mendoza’s brother via Venmo at: Jesus-Vega-58.

Lucía Mendoza, a janitor and member of the Trinity community, passed away on Friday, April 9 when a road rage incident led to open fire on her vehicle on IH-35 North, according to KSAT. Mendoza’s eldest daughter was injured but is recovering at home. Her youngest daughter remained unharmed.

Members of the Trinity community remember Mendoza as kind and warm-hearted. Michelle Bartonico, Assistant Vice President for Strategic Communications and Marketing, said she’ll miss seeing Mendoza around campus.

“I know I can speak for every person in Strategic Communications and Marketing that we will miss Lucía’s warm and caring presence. She would greet us in the halls of Northrup each day with a smile. Sometimes she would wait outside our morning meetings and we were always tempted to just add her to the team. Several individuals became quite close particularly this past year when it was a ghost town on campus,” said Bartonico over email.

Carla Sierra, Public Relations Manager, noted Mendoza’s serene nature.

“What always stood out to me about Luci, is how incredibly peaceful and lovely she was. She always had a warm smile for every person she came in contact with — I noticed this when she didn’t know anyone was watching. She was friendly, talkative and very kind. It’s hard to believe that we will not see her anymore,” said Sierra.

Trinity’s English department released a tweet about Mendoza following the news of her passing.

“We mourn the passing of Lucía Mendoza, a member of our Trinity community, a coworker, a gentle presence among us. We hope her family finds justice and peace.”

Kelly Grey Carlisle, associate professor of English, said that although she didn’t know Mendoza, her radiance spoke for itself.

“I didn’t know Lucía well at all, but I don’t think you needed to know her well to sense what a kind, radiant and beautiful person she was,” said Carlisle.

Other members of the community interacted with Mendoza on a day-to-day basis, leaving them with a deep sense of loss after her passing.

“Lucía greeted me every morning with a smile. She started my day and many of my colleagues in Strategic Communications & Marketing in the best way possible, simply by smiling and saying ‘good morning.’ Lucía was a hard worker who will be dearly missed,” said Taylor Stakes, Video and Multimedia Manager for Strategic Communications and Marketing.

Associate professor of Spanish, Dania Abreu-Torres, remembers the pride Mendoza would take in her daughters.

“Lucía was a bright sunshine every morning, just like her name (Lucía = Luz = Light). I always arrived early to Northrup and she was already there, doing her work with enthusiasm. Brightly she will say good morning and engage in small conversation. I would ask about her family and she always spoke so proudly of her daughters,” said Abreu-Torres over email.

She continued, “I also have two daughters, so we had this in common and shared some tips on how to deal with a teenager, laughing at all the drama they could bring. She was a great mom, a great employee and an awesome human being. Her smile, her laughter and her commitment to work and family will be missed immensely.”

Linda Ramos, administrative assistant, also remembers Mendoza’s commitment to her daughters.

“Lucía has left an emptiness in our hearts. We will miss her bright smile and laughter as she was the first person we saw when we entered NH. She took pride in her work. I would tell her Northrup never looked so clean and she would just smile. She always wanted the best for her girls so she went back to school to show them it’s never too late to learn. She treated everyone with respect. She may be gone but will never be forgotten. Rest in peace our sweet and beautiful friend, until we meet again,” said Ramos over email.

Stephanie Velásquez, secretary in the English department, said she will miss conversing with Mendoza.

“We saw each other a lot around Northrup, so we would always stop and talk for a bit. Luci was honestly one of those rare people who actually cared about what you were saying. She was so compassionate and encouraging. She always told me, “hay que ser fuerte.” When I think about her now, I remember her saying that while holding her head up high and smiling. That’s how I want to remember her,” said Velásquez.

Jenny Browne, associate professor of English, shared a few words about Mendoza over email.

“Like many, I recall Luci as the first person I often saw when I entered Northrup Hall in the morning. Over this past year, as I continued to Zoom teach in my office during the pandemic, she was often the only person I saw all day long. It was surreal, as is the suddenness of her absence. I hope she might have also felt comforted by having someone else around, doing their job best as they could. We didn’t talk at length, but we always said hello and visited a bit. She often mentioned her daughters, and talked about learning English. Mostly she worked, day in and day out radiating warm good-humored dignity. I feel lucky to have met her, and furious at the senseless violence that took her.”

Monica L. Saenz, editor of the Leeroy newsletter, said she’ll always cherish Mendoza’s cheery nature.

“When things at Trinity were the old normal, we would visit each other every morning during her duties, and it was one of the highlights of my day. She was so cheery, happy, and funny. She loved talking about her daughters; she was a proud mommy. Her little one would play teacher to her and help her learn new things that she herself had learned in school. She also loved talking about her extended family,” said Saenz over email.

Saenz recalled a gift that Mendoza gave to her.

“She gave me a little gift that I will always treasure, a little pair of squirrel salt and pepper shakers. They are so cute. I have them in my kitchen in a safe place on the shelf.”

Saenz said that Mendoza would often practice her English with her.

“She would also practice her English with me. It was fun. I believe she told me she was also going to school. One takes for granted that the times will never end. All I can tell you is that she was much loved and I am going to miss her very much.”

University President Danny Anderson sent out a message to the Trinity community regarding the incident on April 11.

“Many of us were fortunate to share each day with Lucía in Northrup Hall, where she was known to all thanks to her quick laugh and smile and her genuine warmth and kindness,” wrote Anderson. “Linda Ramos, our co-worker on the fourth floor of Northrup Hall, is in touch with Lucía’s family and will provide details about Lucía’s services as soon as they are available. Likewise, so many of us have expressed a desire to support the family in any way we can, and information will be shared with campus as soon as possible.”