Rock ‘n roll fan, loving fiancé, cool aunt
Heather Marie Renz, a San Dimas resident, died in her sleep on Saturday, January 24, 2015. She was 32.
The daughter of Cheryl Ann Renz-Lopez and Mark David Lopez, she was born on November 5, 1982. Heather was the fourth child in a family of eight kids. She grew up in Glendora, attending Sanburg Middle School and graduating from Glendora High School. She was involved in tap, dance and cheer in elementary school and she continued on as a cheerleader through middle school. “She took her love of dancing everywhere. She wasn’t afraid to dance alone,” her mother said.
Ms. Renz was a born extrovert. “She was a child who never met a stranger,” Ms. Renz-Lopez said. “She could walk up to anyone and be a friend.” She made many lifelong friends including Amber Pacheco and Lisa Austin, both of whom she met when she was in fourth grade.
She not only became best friends with Amber and Lisa but came to regard their houses as second homes. They were always welcome at Heather’s house as well and spent countless hours playing board games with her and her older brother Michael. Other favorite pastimes included dress-up singing and dancing contests, joined by Heather’s older sister Michelle, and playing tag or roughhousing in the pool with her brother Ryan. As she grew older, Ms. Renz became enamored with music, getting the words “rock ‘n roll” inked on her foot and attending no less than eight Aerosmith concerts.
Her goal was always to get to the front of the stage. Once, she climbed up on stage before she was good-naturedly ejected by security. Another time, she stealthily crept below the stage where she was able to touch the trademark scarf hanging from vocalist Steven Tyler’s microphone.
“She was in love with Steven Tyler,” Ms. Pacheco recalled. She eventually conceded that her plan to be with Mr. Tyler was a pipedream and found a companion closer to home. Ms. Renz-Lopez used to load her kids and their friends into her red Suburban, taking them on trips to the river or Mexico. They spent hours there, sunbathing and riding Sea-doos or quads. In 2003, Ryan took his best friend, Josh Petrone, on a family trip to the Colorado River. Heather and Josh had known each other for years. For some reason, something clicked between them. The family always jokes that Josh went to the river with Ryan and came back with Heather. “I took it hard. I was annoyed that Josh wasn’t hanging out with me,” Ryan said. Soon, though, they were spending time together again, this time with Ryan as the proverbial third wheel.
Ms. Renz and Mr. Petrone were inseparable from that point on. They raised a chocolate lab named BB together, and Heather always insisted the pampered pooch was her daughter. They recently delighted everyone by becoming engaged. Josh says he will miss the way Ms. Renz would lift him and anyone she knew up when they were feeling down. With her outgoing nature, she was one of a kind.
“Heather would spark up a conversation with anyone, whether they were someone who was homeless and on the streets or someone who came into her work. She treated everyone with the utmost respect,” he said.
Ms. Renz attended cosmetology school at Citrus College and worked for a time at various hair salons. Ten years ago, she switched gears, becoming a bartender at Casa del Rey in San Dimas. Even after she stopped doing hair professionally, she would still do hair for her friends, relatives and siblings. Most recently, she enlivened a joint slumber party for her nieces Kylie and Emma by doing their guests’ hair, makeup and nails.
Ms. Renz was a great bartender and it wasn’t because of her bartending skills, says Ms. Pacheco, who served as her manager at Casa del Rey. She jokingly says her friend was messy and tended to yell at people loudly. Her personality and huge heart is what impressed everyone. Maybe it was her thousand-watt smile, which her brother Ryan will always remember.
“Heather brought in more sales than anyone. She brought in customers,” Ms. Pacheco said. “She had tons of regulars who would call her, on her phone, just to make sure she was in.”
Staff and customers at the restaurant, which has a drink named after Ms. Renz, “Hurricane Heather,” are devastated to lose everyone’s favorite bartender. They recently held a memorial fundraiser to help defray her funeral costs.
Ms. Renz was a proud Scorpio and all-around fun person, who insisted that her nieces and nephews as well as her friends’ little brothers and sisters—and later their children—call her Cool Aunt Heather or sometimes the less formal Cool Heather.
“Ever since she was born, I was always proud of her,” her mother said. “She was so fun and cute and so full of life. If she wanted to do anything, she did it. Even if she wasn’t supposed to, she would do it and get in trouble. She was so vivacious and happy, and brought so much energy into the room. I’m going to miss that.”
Ms. Renz is survived by her mother and father, Cheryl Ann Renz-Lopez and Mark David Lopez; by her brothers and sisters, Michelle, Michael, Ryan, Mark, Jon, Tiffany and Brittany; by her sister-in-law Heather; by her fiancé Josh Petrone and his mother Cindy; by her grandparents, Robert and Joan Renz; by her best friends, Amber Pacheco and Lisa Austin, and by her beloved “second family,” the Occhiatos. She also leaves her nieces, Alexandria, Kylie, Emma, Ashley and Elizabeth, her goddaughter Matilynn, countless friends and many coworkers and customers at Casa del Rey who loved her.
Memorial and burial services for Heather Marie Renz will be held on Monday, February 9 at 11 a.m. at Oakdale Memorial Park, located at 1401 S. Grand Ave. in Glendora.
Friends have undertaken a campaign to raise money for funeral costs for Ms. Renz. They have already reached more than half of their $10,000 goal, with support including two anonymous $1,000 donations. To donate, visit YouCaring.com and search “Heather You Will Be So Missed But Forever In Our Hearts!”