Rose Marie Soto’s daughter broke the sad news to the thousands of people who have been offering prayers and support for her mother, saying that at 12:05 Monday Heaven gained an angel.
Soto died after being diagnosed with stage 3 cervical cancer earlier this year.
A part of the community, Soto has worked behind a chair as a hairdresser for 45 years. Day in and day out, Soto has always had a smile on her face, and she has touched many lives along the way. Not only is she a wife, mother and grandmother, but many throughout the community call her friend. She began working at Bill’s Beauty Shop and alongside her husband, Raymond, has continued working there for more than four decades.
In March, after visiting the emergency room in UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill complaining of severe pain and difficulty using the restroom, and finding out that her tumor had perforated her large intestine, further tears and complications continued to arise and chemotherapy treatment was on hold until other medical problems could be stabilized.
Rallying behind their friend, the community came together at the end of May and held a plate benefit and raised $33,000 to assist Soto and the family with medical expenses. During that fundraising, nearly 3,500 plates were sold and other donations made. In addition to the benefit, family and friends organized a GoFundMe page that raised more than $9,000 in one month.
One of those friends, Terry Cottle, who spearheaded the benefit, had one thing to say following Soto’s passing Monday.
”Rose may not be here with Raymond and Natalie and Vivian and the rest of her family and the thousands of friends, But I can truly say to you all that just a little over three weeks ago, she knew she was loved and she told us so. To be absent from the body is to be present with God. You have earned your wings sweet lady.”
Over the last few weeks, family has asked for visitors to limit their visits or keep from visiting all together. As infection was taking over her body, the family continued to ask for prayers of healing and hope and comfort for Soto.
Even before the benefit was held, the family was offering the community for their support, prayers and time throughout the difficulties the family was facing. Cottle, too, offered thanks for the benefit’s success.
“We sort of headed this event up and did not have to even think about it when asked to help pull a bunch of Friends of Rose together to pull off a successful fundraiser,” Cottle noted. “In fact, we deserve no praise for the success of such a worthy cause. All the honor and glory goes to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
For more than four decades, Soto has graced Sampson County with her bubbly personality and offered a helping hand. She always carried a smile on her face, and until the very end, that same smile was always there. It was that smile that Cottle says Soto shared with him the last time they visited with each other.
“I’d rather live one day on this earth and impact people the way she has and does and be the person she is than to live 1,000 years and be as selfish and bitter as others I have come to know,” Cottle said. “Life is not about the breaths you take but the people and moments that take your breath away.”
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.