Opel Mae Larios (Belback) was born on July 23, 1941, in Bolivar, Polk County, Missouri to James and Mary Ann Belback. She had an older sister, Dorothy, and a younger brother James. She also had some Native American ancestry on her mother’s side, so our nickname for her was “the Cherokee Princess”. She called herself a “feisty young girl who wouldn’t back down from a fight”. (She was also part Irish.)
She knew hardship, difficulty, and love. She had a daughter at a young age and then later made her way to Southern California In 1983, she married Juan Larios, and even though that relationship did not last, she would often refer to him and pray for him.
Sometime around 1995, she got connected to friends of Trinity Christian Reformed Church, in Artesia, CA. She responded to the good news of Jesus Christ and became part of the Trinity family. She was regular presence at Trinity, first with Tooty Elledge, and then with Randy and Diane Van Essen. During church services, she was often the first one to respond when Pastor Rick asked questions from the pulpit. She would often be seen after church at the cookie table.
Opel could be counted on to liven up any conversation. You never quite knew how she would respond. Sometimes, she might even threaten to “beat you up”, but always in the most tender spirit.
Opel was one of God’s precious jewels. She reminded us of God’s creativity and grace. Near the end of her life, she often spoke of how much she wanted to meet her Lord and Savior. Though her journey was not easy, she is home at last.