Update: Carmelita Rood has been transferred to Country Villa Murrieta Health Center, 24100 Monroe Ave. in Murrieta. She can be reached there by phone at 951-200-7120.
You might call her the First Lady of Menifee. She was, at least, one of the first ladies I met after moving here 14 months ago,.
One of the first, and definitely one of the most special.
In many ways, Carmelita Rood is the face of Menifee. If you've been involved in community affairs at all, you surely have met her. At age 86, she has both a rich history of community service and a positive energy that lights up anyone she meets.
Soon after coming to work at Menifee 24/7, I attended a Menifee Valley Chamber of Commerce function with my wife Kristen. We were barely through the door when this bubbly little woman, petite frame and smile a mile wide, came up and took me by the arm.
"Welcome!" said Carmelita. "Are you new here? Let me take your picture."
Carmelita loves to take photos. Soon after moving to Sun City with her husband in 1978, she began writing and taking photos for the Sun City News. For most of the time since then, she has served as the unofficial historian for the Chamber of Commerce, taking photos at every event and compiling them into memory books.
Yes, Carmelita has touched many lives in this town. That's why it was so sad recently when she stopped attending community functions. Last week, she entered Loma Linda University Medical Center in Murrieta, where she was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer of the liver and colon.
But true to her unwavering faith, she has placed her life in God's hands and is willing to accept whatever plan He has for her. Carmelita is scheduled to be transferred to a local rehabilitation facility this weekend to begin chemotherapy. She is convinced her remaining time on earth will be determined not only by the doctors' care, but by her own faith and the prayers of others.
Oh, and you know there will be lots of those.
"If I go tomorrow, I'm ready," Carmelita said. "But I do feel like there are still things I can do here. Menifee is going to be such a beautiful city and I love being a part of the growth. But whatever the Lord has planned for me, I will do."
Carmelita grew up in Jerome, Arizona, where her father worked in the mines. The family moved to Los Angeles when she was a young woman. She got a job in the finance industry and worked her way up to the position of executive secretary to the top two officers in the loan division of California Savings & Loan.
Retiring after 30 years service, Carmelita eventually settled with her husband in Sun City, where she immersed herself in the development of the community. Her list of contributions to the community includes:
33-year member of the Menifee / Sun City Woman's Club
Life member of Soroptimist International
14-year member of Kiwanis Club of Sun City
Past president of the Sun City Chamber of Commerce
Current ambassador and photographer for Menifee Valley Chamber of Commerce
Involved with Sun City Concern
Worked at Kay Ceniceros Senior Center
Past board member of American Heart Association in Riverside
And most of all, just a sweet, loving lady.
"She is a woman of integrity, quality and a woman who every day makes a difference in someone's life," said Robbie Motter. "She shares information from her heart, and is always the first person to volunteer to help in an organizational project."
Carmelita says that her goal is always to be the first person to greet a newcomer at any community gathering. She allows no one to become a "wallflower," she says.
Her motto, as stated by Motter: "All in all, whatever you do, show that you love doing it, have fun and keep a positive attitude."
We will if you will, Carmelita. And we know you will.