FAIRFIELD — As she was passed from one set of loving arms to the next, 6-week-old Loralai Krause had no idea she was sharing the spotlight with her 95-year-old great-great-great-grandmother, Nettie Lopez.
“She is nice and warm,” Lopez while holding the baby. “I used to hold her mother.”
Lopez had held at least half of the more than 100 people who filled her home Saturday as she celebrated her birthday. Six generations were present for the festivities.
“Memo” (pronounced with a long e), as Lopez is affectionately called by family and friends, has five children. They gave her 18 grandchildren. Those grandchildren produced 33 great-grandchildren. Those 33 went on to give her 15 great-great-grandchildren. And, great-great-granddaughter Crystal Krause, 19, brought the great-great-great-grandchild into the family.
One of six children, Lopez and her younger sister, Loyola Dominguez, 86, are the only two left. Dominguez traveled from Arizona for the event. Other family came from Texas, New Mexico and all over California.
Frank Lopez, Nettie Lopez’s middle child, attributed his mom’s longevity to a variety of factors, including the fact she stays active. Lopez just got her driver’s license renewed for another years. “She’s sharp as a tack,” he said.
That was proven when Frank Lopez was asked her to remember the ages of his siblings. He couldn’t, but his mother did.
“Memo” Lopez came to Fairfield about eight years ago. Prior to that, she lived in Martinez. She came to California, via the train, in 1942 with four children in tow. Her husband died in 1958 and Lopez, who was in her 30s, was left to raise the three youngest children as a single parent.
“I’ve always been active,” said Lopez, who has garnered 17 medals in the Senior Olympics. “I played with my kids. I grew up with them.”
She retired at 72 when faced with the choice of having to commute for her job.
“She is so involved with family,” Doris Goodrich said of Lopez. Goodrich is Kathy Sprau’s daughter and Lopez’s granddaughter. “She is part of everyone’s everything.”
At 38, Jimmy Jimerson, Goodrich’s son and Lopez’s great-grandson, said there a good chance Lopez could welcome a seventh generation.
Kitty and Donald Galloway ventured from Elk Grove for the party. They met Lopez almost 50 years ago when she worked with Donald Galloway’s stepmother.
“She’s just a sweetheart. She’s so very easygoing and calm,” Kitty Galloway said of Lopez. “She’s the kind of person you go out of your way to be with.”
Lopez’s children range in age from 68 to 75. All live in the area.
And, she’s still their mother.
“You are going to stay here for just a moment,” Lopez instructed daughter Lucille Thomas. A guest wanted to take a picture of Lopez and her children, and Lopez didn’t want to lose sight of Thomas as others went to gather the other four.
“I’m really enjoying having all my family and close friends here,” Lopez said. “I’ve had a good life.”
Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.