MODESTO -- A teacher's aide in Modesto let her passion of climbing take her all over the world before she died recently at Yosemite National Park.
"One thing I learned really quickly about Trish is she doesn't take no for an answer,” said Jamey Johnson Olney. “She's a rebel with a cause, upbeat, full of energy. I always said to Trish that I wanted to be her when I grew up."
Olney's friendship with Patricia “Trish” Stoops was about admiration and aspiration.
In her 57-year-old friend and colleague from Modesto's Glick Middle School, Olney found someone equally committed to teaching students through service to others. Seven months of brainstorming were leading them to an international mission to build a home for a needy family in Mexico.
Then Olney learned her friend's other passion, climbing, had taken her life.
"I don't think I've accepted it. There's no closure,” she told FOX40.
Stoops, who was an experienced climber, was leading a climbing group of her boyfriend and three others June 8 when she suffered a deadly fall off the Central Pillar of Frenzy in Yosemite National Park.
It's not yet clear exactly what happened. No one else in her group was injured.
With her went the spirit that teamed up with Olney to show their underprivileged students they had the power to clear a family's land in Camp Fire devastated Paradise.
"It's infectious,” Olney said. “She infects you with that enthusiasm. She makes everyone think that all things are possible."
Like she had countless times in her climbing, Stoops' partnership with Olney was set to summit next month with 16 students building a home in Tijuana. The former Manhattan Beach architect was putting her past expertise as a Habitat for Humanity leader and director for El Salvador's Fuller Center for Housing to use in new ways.
"She never brought attention to herself,” Olney explained. "Her sister had no idea she was involved in all of these projects and service learning."
In her honor, this summer's Mexico project will go forward.
"One of the many blessings that Trish left me with is now I feel like I have this community of like-minded individuals who now that they know about the work, they're eager to help out in whatever way they can,” Olney said.
Stoops is a native of Detroit and her family is planning her funeral there. Her service group from Glick called Helping Other People Everywhere, or HOPE, will hold a memorial for her next month in Tijuana. She will also be remembered in a service on campus when students return to Glick in the fall.