‘Definition of a strong woman.’ Beloved Tri-Cities elementary teacher dies Christmas Eve

A longtime Tri-City teacher and beloved mother of three died Christmas Eve from a brain aneurysm.

Marisela “Marci” Chavez was 48. She’s survived by her partner of 13 years, Melisio Mejia, as well as her children and granddaughter.

“She was the definition of a strong woman: A hard-working woman and always humble,” reads an obituary posted by her family.

She worked a combined 15 years at the Kennewick and Richland school districts. Most recently, she taught fifth grade at Fuerza Elementary School.

Marisela Chavez
Marisela Chavez

Counseling services are available at Fuerza for those who need support, a spokesperson for the Kennewick School District said.

Chavez was the youngest daughter of Mexican immigrants who moved to the U.S. She was born in Othello and raised in Connell.

In 1994, Chavez graduated from Connell High School and went on to attend Yakima Valley Community College.

She earned her associate’s and bachelor’s degrees from Columbia Basin College and Grand Canyon University, respectively, and went on to work for five years as a paraeducator for the Yakima School District.

At that same time she also started a family and worked diligently to raise three daughters as a single parent.

Chavez eventually worked her way up to become a teacher and work in the district’s federal programs serving homeless and migrant youths. She also founded a food and health pantry for students.

“Marci put an incredible effort in helping and teaching others, never forgetting to add her personal touch to her work,” read her obituary.

“She will be remembered for bringing life to any room as soon as she walked through the doors. Her spirit will live on through the memories we hold of her dancing to the music she loved.”