Sierra Title

After 75 years on the job, Sierra Title employee still shows up early to work

Oct. 4, 2020

When all the other offices in downtown Edinburg are still locked and dark, the lights at Sierra Title Company are already burning. Inside, Estella Lopez is at her desk, preparing for the work day ahead. Lopez is not just another "early bird" who wants to get an early start on the day. She’s just a few weeks shy of 93 years old, and incredibly, she’s been doing this for the past 75 years.

"I get up at 5:00 o’ clock every morning," Lopez said of her daily routine. "I’m here at the office by 6:30, even if I don’t have to be here. I still go to church at 7:00 every morning, and then I’m back here at 7:30."

Lopez’s historic tenure at Sierra Title dates back to September 1945, when it was called Fidelity Abstract & Title Company. She was hired as a receptionist just a few months after her graduation from Edinburg High School. She had no work experience, but she knew how to type, and she was eager to learn.

"It was tough, but it was fun learning, because everything was new and interesting to me,” Lopez recalled. “You had to learn fast, otherwise you wouldn’t have a job very long. I guess I learned everything okay, because I’m still here. "

Lopez has worked many positions at Sierra Title over the years – receptionist, typist, bookkeeper, escrow officer, and closings and customer service. Today, she is the Office Manager, a position she has held for the past 35 years. In all that time, Lopez has been known for her dedicated work ethic.

"Estella has seen the title industry grow through many changes, not just with laws and procedures, but also through advanced technology. Computers have made her work easier, but her long, busy days have not stopped."

"Mrs. Lopez has been a great influence on all the people who work here," said Marielsa Pulido, Sierra Title’s Vice President of Operations. "When things get bad or the economy slows down she has guided us through it. She’s seen it all before, and she gives us peace of mind and the confidence to face whatever adversity comes around."

Lopez was not so confident in early days on the job. She remembers one contractor who would bring in documents and insisted on waiting while Lopez typed them all up.

"He used to sit there on the sofa in the corner and wait for his documents," Lopez recalled. "He would bring in five or six deeds of trust and mechanic’s liens so he could start construction. I would ask him if he wanted to come back later when the papers were ready, and he would say, ‘No, I’m fine.’ I was a nervous wreck, because I had to type everything on a manual typewriter while he waited, but it pressured me to learn."

Lopez’s work ethic and her decades long tenure at Sierra Title have been recognized in proclamations from both houses of the state legislature. She’s honored by such recognitions, but Lopez says the best thing she likes about her job is meeting new people. Even though she’ll turn 93 on December 21, she still enjoys the simple pleasure of walking across the street and visiting with friends and business acquaintances at the Hidalgo County Courthouse. Her encyclopedic knowledge of the industry and its key local players is another of the big assets she brings to Sierra Title.

"Her knowledge and experience are invaluable to this office," said Pulido. "When we need something or someone’s expertise, she knows exactly where to find it, or who to call to get the information. She’s better than Google!"

Lopez has been blessed with a full family life as well. She was married to the late Arcadio Lopez, a veteran of the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office, and together they raised three children, 12 grandchildren, and seven great grandchildren. She says she still enjoys cooking for them when they visit her on Sunday mornings.
The one thing that’s not on Lopez’s weekly "To-Do" list is retirement.

“People always ask me, ‘Why are you still there? Why don’t you retire?’ I can’t do that," said Lopez. "I think a lot of people who retire lose their minds. I don’t want to do that. I just enjoy what I’m doing. Unless something happens, I’m fine just working."

By: Benjamin Trevino

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