Maria Elena Thomas of Martinez, California, passed away peacefully on May 6, 2021 in Tampa, Florida after a long battle with dementia.

Maria Elena Hernandez was born in Jalisco, Mexico to Felipe and Josefina Hernandez on July 27, 1952. She was a devoted and loving wife to Richard Andrew Thomas and a nurturing and proud mother to her four children, Erika, Richard, Irian, and Cassandra. Family and God were everything to Maria Elena and she spent her life raising her children and staying devoted to the Catholic faith.

Maria Elena is preceded in death by her husband, Richard, parents, Felipe and Josefina, and siblings, Emeterio, Felipe, Guadalupe, and Maria.

Maria Elena is survived by her children: Erika Thomas, Richard and Jennifer Thomas, Irian and Jake Johnson, Cassandra Thomas; her brothers and sisters: Fructuoso, Maria Rosario Gonzalez, and Juan Carlos Hernandez; her grandchildren: Thiadus Thomas-Jones, Xavier Thomas-Jones, Elexis Thomas-Taylor, Elyna Thomas-Taylor, Madison Thomas, Eysaiah Thomas-Taylor, Mason Thomas, Ethan Thomas-Taylor, and London Thomas-Jones; and her great-grandchildren: Iris Thomas, Luna Rose Thomas Moten, and Kayden Wilson.

Maria Elena had a philanthropic spirit and helping those less fortunate was something she was passionate about. In lieu of flowers, her children would like loved ones to consider making a gift to one of the designated organizations below.

Dementia Society of America:
PetSmart Charities:
Fisher House Foundation:

Donor acknowledgements can be sent to:

Cassandra Thomas
4207 S. Dale Mabry Highway
Apt: 6206
Tampa, FL 33611

Maria Elena’s children wish to extend their sincere thanks to relatives of both the Thomas and Hernandez family; Caregiver Emilia Isla; Caregiver Cindy Morris; LifePath Hospice and the Plum Team; Blount & Curry Funeral Home; and the countless loved ones that have supported and extended their prayers over us during this difficult time.

About the Dementia Society of America
To enhance the quality of life for those living with Dementia, caregivers, and the community! Educate. To significantly raise the awareness and decrease the stigma in America to the spectrum of conditions collectively known as Dementia, through education. Provide. To make available, non-medical, easy-to-understand Dementia awareness materials and resources for individuals, small businesses, larger corporations, civic organizations, and communities-at-large. Recognize. To encourage those who: provide exemplary Dementia caregiving, counseling, engagement, and even nutritional support; develop prevention initiatives; and create innovative products, services, and solutions.

About PetSmart Charities
PetSmart Charities is committed to finding lifelong, loving homes for all pets by supporting programs and thought leadership that bring people and pets together.

About the Fisher House Foundation
Fisher House Foundation builds comfort homes where military & veterans families can stay free of charge, while a loved one is in the hospital. These homes are located at military and VA medical centers around the world. Fisher Houses have up to 21 suites, with private bedrooms and baths. Families share a common kitchen, laundry facilities, a warm dining room, and an inviting living room. Since inception, the program has saved military and veterans’ families an estimated $500 million in out of pocket costs for lodging and transportation.

Posted by Cassandra Thomas on July 27, 2022
Happy Heavenly Birthday mamacita. Missing you every single day. Love you to the moon and back.
Posted by Irian Johnson on May 6, 2022
I know you're in a better place, but I wish I can just hold your hand and look into your eyes to let you know how grateful I am for all the love you fed into your children. I miss you so much mommy! Forever in my heart
Posted by Cassandra Thomas on May 6, 2022
Missing you today but celebrating your memory always. Love you mommy.
Posted by JoAnn Johnson on May 6, 2022
Posted by JoAnn Johnson on July 28, 2021
Enjoy your mansion. Rest well
Posted by Elyna Thomas on July 27, 2021
Happy Birthday my beautiful queen. I miss you so much every single day. I got your name and birthday tattooed on me the other day because i always want a piece of you with me. I hope heaven is everything you ever imagined. I love you so much grandma.
Posted by Cassandra Thomas on July 27, 2021
Happy born day mamacita. I woke up bathed in your love this morning and am sending heavenly birthday wishes your way. I miss you every day but I feel you with me always. Love you to the moon and back mommy.
Posted by Irian Johnson on July 27, 2021
Happy heavenly birthday mom. I miss you terribly!!! There's not a day that goes by that I don't think of you. I find comfort knowing you are in a better place and I know yoir watching over all of your loved ones. Until we're together in paradise mom ❣
Posted by Vera Ransom on May 16, 2021
My Dearest Beautiful Irian, Many Blessings to you and your family Always. I pray that the family will continue to Live, and Love so richly and openly as you all were taught and showed by your Beautiful and Humble Mother. Mommy is not gone, she just changed her address to Heaven. She’ll ALWAYS be with ALL of you Forever and Ever. Amen 
Please know that Kevin, Sydney and I are right here for you and your family. This is sincere from our hearts. Sisterly Love and Hugs to you and your family Always.
Love makes everything better and better..... Amen 
Posted by Alex Thomas on May 11, 2021
Rest in paradise Aunt Maria Elena. As I sit here and think of the memories I have with you, the family and my cousins, I remember you were always so kind, sincere, calm and SMILING. I know how important FAMILY was to you and you should be proud of the beautiful children and family you raised. You laid the foundation and I know the family will carry on your legacy, memories and traditions. Love you always, Alex

Leave a Tribute

Recent Tributes
Posted by Cassandra Thomas on July 27, 2022
Happy Heavenly Birthday mamacita. Missing you every single day. Love you to the moon and back.
Posted by Irian Johnson on May 6, 2022
I know you're in a better place, but I wish I can just hold your hand and look into your eyes to let you know how grateful I am for all the love you fed into your children. I miss you so much mommy! Forever in my heart
Posted by Cassandra Thomas on May 6, 2022
Missing you today but celebrating your memory always. Love you mommy.
Recent stories

The Great Easter Basket Hunt

Shared by Cassandra Thomas on May 10, 2021
The annual search for my Easter basket was always a highlight. Mom would find the most incredible hiding spots; causing me to spend hours searching for it. She would follow me around as soon as I woke up, giggling as I scoured the house, inside and out. There was no place off limits, and I think mom secretly enjoyed triumph over just how difficult her hiding spots were.

I remember one year in particular because it was the first year that I gave up the hunt. My morning search was creeping into early afternoon and I still had no idea where my basket was. I remember getting frustrated and asking her to just tell me where she hid it. She refused. On the verge of discouraged tears, I told her that I quit. She simply smiled and told me “no” but that she would give me a hint. She led me to the garage and let me know that it was hidden somewhere in there and that I had to find it. I looked at the rows of storage boxes and countless hiding spots; thinking there was no way. Then I looked at the washer and dryer sitting off to the side. I opened the washer first to nothing. Then I opened the dryer and there sat a beautiful big basket filled with my favorite candies, tiny, wrapped gifts, and brightly colored eggs.

She never said it but, looking back, I know she taught me something that day. About never giving up until the end goal was reached. About giving grace when needed. About not letting our emotions control us. Mom continued my Easter basket tradition even after I left home for college; sending care packages filled with all my favorite things.

- Cassandra

Holidays with mom

Shared by Irian Johnson on May 10, 2021
Time. That is something mom always made for each of us. Being a single parent and working as hard as she did, I look back and wonder how in the world did she make the time for all the small and big things she did for her children, from attending our sport activities to taking us on road trips. The one thing that truly amazes me is how she loved the holidays and decorated the home for Christmas, Halloween, and Thanksgiving. When I tell you she went all out, she went ALL out lol! She would pull out all her trinkets and in every room you step in would be a reminder of what holiday was just around the corner. She just loved her figurines! She would have them across the fireplace mantel, on end tables and even in her glass case where she showcased her other treasured figurines.

For Christmas, she would pull out all the hidden presents and place them under the tree as we slept the night before. Christmas morning we would be surrounded by the sounds of Christmas music, which my personal favorite was the Muppet Babies Christmas. We couldn't begin opening presents until everyone was sitting around the tree and she would be in the background sipping on her morning coffee. Her joy came from seeing the joy she brought to her children.

For Easter, she would hide Easter baskets or Easter eggs all around the home filled with candy and some were even filled with dollar bills. We would race all around the home collecting as many eggs as we can find for she had the BEST hiding places. In our younger years, she would have us dressed up in our Sunday best and attend Church. That was always important to her.

Halloween was my personal favorite. She would take us all out trick or treating in the same neighborhood each year, which was near Hidden Valley Elementary school. We would take pillow cases and by the time we were finished, those cases were usually filled to the top. Once we were back home, she would have us dump out the candy in each of our piles for inspection. This would be the time where we knew to pull out all the Almond Joys and Mounds and give to mom, for those were her favorite chocolates.We would then begin the trade game with one another, which was always fun!

She always made the holiday time so special and I am so happy that I continued some of the same traditions with my own children.

Holiday Cheer

Shared by Cassandra Thomas on May 10, 2021
Whenever I decorate my home for major holidays, I think of mom. She loved the holidays, especially Christmas. Every year since I can remember, our house would be transformed into a festive and warm place, complete with decorative towels, accent pillows, and holiday accessories. I would come home to Alvin & the Chipmunks’ Christmas with the Chipmunks album playing on repeat, the smell of pine wafting from her favorite potpourri burner, and my mom, either pulling hundreds of string lights from the garage or hiding behind her locked bedroom door while she hid presents under her bed or high up in her closet.

My favorite tradition with mom was picking out the perfect tree. She loved real trees. While we had our fair share of faux ones, our mom loved going to the local tree farm and selecting the one that would be set up in the “good living room” until January. I remember being so excited to go with her on a chilly night and walking up and down the tree aisle; her observing every pine needle and checking for the fullest, most beautiful tree. And when we got home, she would immediately get to work on watering and adorning it.

Mom loved to see us happy. It was what she lived for. And while we did not have much, she made every Christmas so incredibly special. I never felt without during the holidays and I do not know how she created this magical land in our home every year without fail. While I do not have children of my own, I will continue the tradition of making the holidays bright for loved ones. And I hope I make her proud.

- Cassandra