Guy Lombardo wrote a song titled “Enjoy Yourself, It’s Later Than You Think”. In it, Lombardo sings, “The years go by, as quickly as a wink. Enjoy yourself, enjoy yourself, it's later than you think.”
Enjoying life while encouraging others to do the same was what set Linda Reyes-Popovich apart. Known for her smile, infectious laugh, and sense of adventure, anyone who met Linda became a friend. So when she died from COVID-19 on September 10th, 2020, it was only fitting that a celebration of life be held in honor of the woman who touched so many lives with her smile.
There was only one place that could hold the love Linda had accumulated from her many friends and family she had gained over the years: the Porter County Fairgrounds. With the assistance of Centier Bank, the Valparaiso Rotary Club, and the Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce, over 120 cars filled with family, friends, and Centier Bank coworkers gathered to honor the woman that none could forget.
“While we are mourning the loss of Linda, we are also celebrating the life of a woman whose vibrant, passionate, and contagious spirit touched us all,” said Mike Schrage CEO and Chairman of Centier Bank. “Anyone who knew Linda will tell you that she was a special person. Our Centier family is better because of Linda, and she is truly missed.”
Shortly after attending Hammond Tech High School, Linda became a banker. While working with a passion she was known for, Linda found her perfect fit at Centier Bank. She would spend 24 years of her career working her way up from a teller to Assistant Vice President/Branch Manager. She was a role model, with many turning to her for people skills.
Rex Richards of the Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce knew Linda for over twelve years.
“People were attracted to her because of her personality, her knowledge of banking,” said Richards. “She was just a wonderful person, with amazing people skills. She was a wonderful ambassador for Centier Bank.”
In her off time, Linda loved to travel with her husband Bob Popovich, spend time with her brother Marty Reyes, attend music concerts, and watch her favorite team, the Chicago Blackhawks.
“Linda’s view of nature is that you had to earn the view,” said husband Bob Popovich.
On October 20, on what would have been their wedding anniversary, Popovich took Linda’s ashes for a solo drive to Zion National Park in Utah. Hiking up the mountains, he gave her a final resting place in a spot he felt most appropriate, an overlook of Guardian Angel Mountain.
At the celebration of life, Popovich reflected on their fifth wedding anniversary when they went skydiving. While skydiving was thrilling, it was the feeling of being reunited with his wife on the ground that stood out for him. He looks forward being reunited with Linda again one day.
“I had Linda years. Those years were very special,” said Popovich. “They were jam packed with fun, excitement, and adventure. I was fortunate to have her for the time that I did.”
Robert Rattay knew Linda for her 24-year career at Centier and considered her a close friend. He felt honored to speak about Linda.
“She never demanded respect. She would earn it through the examples she would set and the efforts she put forth for everybody she worked with and knew,” said Rattay.
“Linda made people feel like family,” said Tim Warner, Vice President of Centier Business Banking and Treasure of the Valparaiso Rotary Club. “She made it fun. She showed me you could work and have fun at the same time.”
Socially distancing in their vehicles did nothing to dampen the love and spirit of fun displayed for Linda. Rather, it only amplified it. As Linda’s favorite Jimmy Buffet song “Fins” played, LED candles were activated as those in attendance sang from or danced in front of their cars while wearing Chicago Blackhawks attire. As they sang and danced they watched pictures and videos of the vivacious memorable woman.
Continuing Linda’s legacy, and honoring those who cared for her is important to Linda’s family and friends, so they created the “Linda Reyes-Popovich Memorial Fund” with the goal ofproviding scholarships for those who want to go into the health care or nursing fields. To learn more or to donate to the Linda Reyes-Popovich Memorial Fund, visitwww.pccf.gives/lindareyespopovich.
A video of Linda’s Celebration of Life can be found on the Valparaiso Chamber Facebook page.