January 2020



OUR CLASSMATE STELLA ROMERO and I recently had a lengthy marathon phone conversation that lasted four (4) hours. In the course of going back and forth via voice mail and email to try to schedule a mutually-convenient day and time for us to talk, Stella wrote in her email note one week beforehand that we would have “much to discuss.” Based on the many topics we covered once we talked directly, indeed there was “much to discuss” during the lengthy phone chat. The exchange was not only significant due its quantity of time, but it was also significant due to its high quality.   

Upbeat and peppered with laughter, our long phone conversation ventured into numerous subjects that included a few “true confession” stories on her part and my part as we took a long stroll down memory lane upon sharing the divergent paths that our respective lives have taken since our childhood and teen years at school together long ago in the 1950s and 1960s.

Very warm and friendly, Stella and her twin sister Della always were well-liked by our classmates all the way from grade school into our high school years in Security. At the end of our junior year in the spring of 1965, we elected Stella to fill one of the “Class Representative” positions to serve with our class officers who included Twila Wilson as President, Meg Hulsey as Vice President and Patti Kueck as Secretary. In addition to electing Stella, we also elected our classmate Suzie Gates to fill one of the “Class Representative” positions for which three other classmates (Daryl Kuiper, Rhonda Richards, Dave Rapelje) were already serving terms.

In her email letter one week before our aforementioned marathon phone conversation, Stella referred to me as “sweet Donnie” and described me as her “most memorable and loved friend at WHS and for that matter Security!!!” I always knew we were friends from childhood through high school, but I did not know until now that she considers me her “most memorable and loved friend” – not just at WHS but in Security. Wow!!

About mid-way into our conversation, Stella used her matter-of-fact style upon informing me that she has Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. It is noteworthy that her health status was not the only topic of our four-hour conversation. “Oh, by the way…” were the words that prefaced the announcement as she eased into it nonchalantly. Noting her decision to halt the treatment options she has been through, she said the focus at this phase is to keep her comfortable. Still residing at home, she feels fortunate and appreciative that her adult son Jeff is residing with her so that he is available whenever she needs assistance. Her renewed connection to her Catholic faith has been very helpful to her as she continues her journey. In the latter part of this month, Stella will be accompanied by her three adult children (Jeff, Jolene, Jeremy) on a trip to Las Vegas where they will see live productions of some of the performing artists at the many entertainment venues in that city.

After we were finished with our aforementioned four-hour marathon phone conversation, there were simultaneous feelings of being exhausted and uplifted on my part. Although it might seem contradictory for somebody to feel exhausted and uplifted at the same time, that is precisely what it felt like to me after Stella and I were finally finished covering a variety of many subjects throughout our lengthy nonstop dialogue.

It is with Stella’s express consent that I share her current situation with you, so be assured that nothing confidential is being disclosed in this update from me.

Please join me in keeping our beloved classmate Stella in prayers. She does not check email or Facebook frequently, but any notes to her in care of this WHS email address will be conveyed to her.

Attached in JPG format is a 1960s photo of Stella.

Respectfully submitted,

Donnie Martinez (January 14, 2020)

Known at WHS by stepfather’s surname Collier

Martinez is my birth certificate and legal surname