Ruby L. Chavez was the kind of teen most parents dream of -- kind, bubbly, caring, compassionate, and giving. She was a senior at McArthur High School, a passionate artist and a fierce lover of animals. She earned the friendship of her peers at school and the respect of adults she came in contact with.

Ruby was also a hard worker, holding after-school and summer jobs since age 15, most recently at a Sellers Bros. grocery store. Although school, work, and hobbies certainly kept her busy, Ruby also volunteered as a Sunday School assistant at her church, working alongside her mom, Sonia Chavez, who filled the role of Sunday School teacher. In whatever spare time she had left, she volunteered at the BARC animal shelter as well as a senior facility, caring for animals and reading to the elderly.

Almost ready to spread her wings and awaiting high school graduation, Ruby dreamed of becoming an art teacher.

Ruby left behind a large family that misses her every day, especially her parents, 4 brothers, and 2 sisters.



The early morning hours of Feb. 17, 2018, were fraught with rain and fog. But Ruby had places to go. As she left her home in Houston, TX, before the sun came up, the 17-year-old tossed a carefree, “I’m leaving, Mom. Bye!” over her shoulder. Those innocent words, said millions of times daily by millions of teens the world over, would soon hold a special meaning. They would be the last words her mother, Sonia Chavez, ever heard from her daughter.

Ruby was on her way to an art competition that morning. But only a mile into her trip, the unthinkable happened – Ruby lost control of her Jeep for unknown reasons and her car slammed into a pole at Keith-Wiess Park – a place that, coincidentally, had been a favorite hangout for Ruby and her friends over the years.

Police arrived quickly, but Ruby died at the scene. To this day, Ruby’s mom questions if a seatbelt malfunction contributed to the loss of her daughter’s life.
Tomorrow isn’t promised. Love your children.
— Sonia Chavez, Ruby's mom


The day of Ruby’s accident, her parents received an acceptance letter from Texas Southern University in the mail. A few excruciating days later, the young girl’s popularity was highlighted by a funeral service attended by more than 600 people, with standing room only in the church that was Ruby’s home away from home all her life.

Other painful reminders of the devastating loss trickled in for days, weeks, and months after Ruby’s death. Her artwork kept on winning. Again and again, the desolate parents were notified that pieces Ruby had submitted to various contests prior to her death were chosen for awards. Accepting them was difficult.

A few months after Ruby’s death, her mom walked at what should have been her daughter’s high school graduation. She wore the five honor cords Ruby had earned for her volunteer work.


Stories about Ruby and her giving spirit were shared, and continue to be shared, around the kitchen table and the many other places where Ruby was cherished as an upstanding young woman.

It wasn’t until after Ruby was gone that her parents learned of a particularly caring gesture the lively teen imparted on another family member. Just two weeks before her own death, when a cousin’s dog passed away, Ruby took it upon herself to share in the grief, bring comfort food, and even hold a little funeral service for the beloved pet to help her cousin through the loss. That’s just who Ruby was – a genuinely sweet, loving person.

In what Sonia says may have been a strange sense of premonition, Ruby painted several self-portraits in the weeks and months before the accident -- most of them reflecting her bubbly, carefree nature.

Today, Ruby’s parents regularly visit Keith Wiess Park – a place that brought Ruby so much joy in life, and also caused such immense pain. They often bring flowers in Ruby’s memory and reminisce about their little girl.


Despite the tragic loss, there is hope. Faith carries the family through. In some ways, the loss unified the family and its generations even more. Sonia’s home is now the central gathering place for cousins, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, and the Chavez’s adult children who previously dispersed in pursuit of their own lives, every Sunday.

And then there are the many beautiful memories Ruby left in the hearts of so many, and the passions she approached with such joy for life.

Sonia has made it her mission to perpetuate Ruby’s spirit. Art and pets, especially, are causes Sonia rallies around in her daughter’s name. LNR Dog and Cat Accessories serves two purposes: to brighten the lives of pets and pet owners everywhere, and to keep Ruby’s memory alive. Proceeds of sales benefit BARC, a Houston animal shelter, Ruby's church, and scholarships for young art students in Ruby’s name.

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