Maria Elena Zenaida Rodriguez de las Alas Banayad passed away on June 16, 2022 at the age of 91 years. She was kind, loving, and a pillar of strength and inspiration for her family.
Zenaida, also known as Lola (Tagalog for grandmother), Nadie and Zeny was born in Mohon, Batangas, Philippines, on August 18, 1930. Her family moved to Taal where she spent some of her childhood and survived the Japanese occupation of the Philippines duringWorld War II. She studied to become a teacher and attended Malayan College in Manila. She graduated with a BSC in Education in 1953 and taught at The Nasugbu Institute for a few years. She dreamed of traveling and teaching on the other islands of the Philippines.
Zenaida married the love of her life, Pedro Banayad, on April 8, 1956 after six years of courtship. Two months after getting married, her dreams of traveling were fulfilled as Zenaida embarked on life as a US Navy wife. Together, Zenaida, Pedro and their three children traveled the world. They were stationed in Japan, California, Hawaii, Scotland and Wisconsin before settling in Racine, WI in 1974. Zenaida and Pedro often considered returning to their hometown in the Philippines but instead made Racine their home for 40 years. In 2014, they moved to Schertz, TX to live with their son and daughter-in-law.
She was a devout Catholic and steadfast in her faith in God. The Banayads were members of St. Paul the Apostle Parish for over 40 years in Racine and later became members of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Schertz.
Zenaida worked at Saint Luke’s Hospital in Racine for nearly 20 years. She was creative and enjoyed sewing and ceramics. She made beautiful dresses for herself, her daughters, and grandchildren. Her ceramic creations and hand-sewn Halloween costumes have become treasured heirlooms.
Post-retirement Zenaida and Pedro loved to travel, including many trips back to their homeland and other destinations around the world via air and cruise ship. Despite a lifetime of living far away from family and relatives, Zenaida instilled the importance of family and loved keeping in touch with her many dear ones. Curious and willing to adapt to new technology, she enjoyed sending emails, spending time on Facebook, playing Solitaire and word games, and listening to music — often asking Alexa to “play Frank Sinatra” or “play Elvis Presley.”
At 4’11”, Zenaida was so proud of being the tallest in her family among her parents and siblings. She loved sweets, living by the mantra that she “can’t feel full until she has something sweet.” She was a fan of celebrity gossip and was a subscriber to People magazine for many decades. As a life-long admirer of Queen Elizabeth, Zenaida shared the distinction of celebrating two birthdays each year - her actual birthday in August and her legal one on September 1.
Zenaida was preceded in death by her devoted husband of 62 years, Pedro, infant sons Peter Joseph and Peter Paul; and granddaughter Michaela, her parents, Maria (Rodriguez) and Simplicio de las Alas; her siblings Norma, Corazon and Honesto.
Zenaida is survived by her adoring children: Zoraida (Chris) of Milwaukee, WI, Antoinette (Fredrik) of Stockholm, Sweden, and Gerard (Linda) of Schertz, TX; grandchildren: Meghan (Brad), Courtney, Aaron, Connor, Mallory, Morgan, and Oliver; great-grandchild: Lark; her sister Lilia, and many beloved nieces, nephews, cousins, relatives and friends.
Visitation will be held at Schertz Funeral Home on Thursday, August 4 beginning at 4pm, with the vigil, eulogies, and rosary at 6pm. Funeral mass will be held on Friday, August 5 at 11:30am at Church of the Good Shepherd in Schertz. Private interment at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery at 2:30pm.