Share

Let the family know you care by sharing this tribute.

Rachel Arriaga (nee Gonzalez) Clark, age 91, passed away peacefully in Kalamazoo, on Wednesday, January 3, 2018 at Sue’s Loving Care. Rachel was born in San Luis Potosi, Mexico on March 2, 1926 to Manuel & Mercedes (Ayala) Gonzalez, where she came from a large family of 12 brothers and sisters.

Rachel was married in 1948 in San Luis Potosi and moved to Grand Rapids shortly after her marriage. In 1955 along with her husband, she opened one of the first Mexican restaurants in Grand Rapids, Fiesta Restaurant. Fiesta was originally located near the corner of Madison Avenue and Hall Street in Madison Square on the southeast side of Grand Rapids. At one point there were 5 locations in the West Michigan area. As there were very few people of Hispanic descent in Grand Rapids at that time, Fiesta became a hub for Hispanic people of all nationalities, creating many lasting friendships.

On Friday nights, her friends would bring their guitars and voices and have a sing-a-long for hours much to the delight of her customers. Rachel was a mentor and role model to many young Hispanic people moving to the West Michigan area, inspiring them through her hard work and success. Throughout the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, many Spanish Teachers in the Grand Rapids area would bring their classes to Fiesta Restaurant to hear the music and get a real life Spanish lesson. Rachel was also an aspiring artist and her beautiful paintings decorate the walls of many family members homes. She had a sparkling personality to the end and loved to joke, laugh and sing.

Rachel is preceded in death by her parents; siblings, Maria Luisa, Mercedes, Esperanza, Victor, and 4 other siblings who died in infancy; as well as many other relatives, including her brother-in-law, Roger Manwaring. She is survived by her beloved daughter, Theresa (Clay) Noble; her best friend and sister, Elizabeth Manwaring; sister, Emma Castillo; brother, Rogelio Gonzalez; nieces and nephews, Mary (Mark) Bodtke, Elena (Steve) Pozza and Kathy (Tim) Walsh; grand nieces and nephews, Elizabeth, Tommy & Maria Pozza, and Sydney & Samantha Walsh.

We all loved her so and will miss her warm personality, laughter, teasing and positive (and practical) outlook on life. Te amamos.

A memorial service in Rachel’s honor will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 20, 2018 at Michigan Cremation and Funeral Care, 3627 Linden Avenue S.E., Wyoming, where visitation will take place at 12:00 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in her name to Dementia Friendly Grand Rapids, 3215 Eaglecrest Dr N.E., Grand Rapids, 49525.

Honoring her wishes cremation will take place. To send a message of sympathy to the family, sign Rachel’s online guest book, or to share a favorite memory, please visit: www.MichiganCremation.com 
Arrangements are entrusted to Michigan Cremation & Funeral Care, Grand Rapids.

Share

Let the family know you care by sharing this tribute.

Leave a Comment