First South American pope made Lolita Roxo proud, optimistic

Lolita Roxo, a devout Roman Catholic who lived most of her life in Brazil, was thrilled Wednesday with the news that the College of Cardinals elected the worldwide church’s first South American pope. In her eyes, it was an occasion for pride and optimism.

A daily worshipper at 9 a.m. Mass at St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Marietta, Roxo was especially pleased that the new pope, Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, had taken the name of Pope Francis after a favorite saint, Francis of Assisi, and was renowned for his advocacy of helping the poor.

A few hours later, though, she hurried to the scene of a minor auto accident in which her granddaughter was involved. Walking across Roswell Road near the intersection with Old Canton Road, she was struck by a car. Taken to Wellstar Kennestone Hospital, she was pronounced dead. The driver of the car was not cited by police.

A memorial Mass for Maria Delores “Lolita” Roxo, 79, of Marietta is 11 a.m. Monday at St. Ann’s Catholic Church with the Rev. John Gabriel officiating. H.M. Patterson & Son, Canton Hill chapel, is in charge of arrangements.

Roxo was born in Madrid. Her daughter, Ana Maria Roxo of Marietta, said that early in life Roxo became known exclusively as Lolita, a customary Spanish nickname for Maria Delores just as boys named Jose are often called Pepe. Moving with her parents to Brazil in the early 1950s, she attended Gama Filho University in Rio de Janeiro, earning a graduate degree in psychology.

As a practicing psychologist at a Rio hospital for persons with emotional problems, “she was good at reading people,” her daughter said, adding that many of those whom her mother treated were charity patients.

A self-taught artist, Roxo did a wide variety of oil paintings, even copies of famous works by Monet and Renoir. Some she gave to family and friends, and others she consigned to a Rio gallery owner to sell for her.

She also had a talent for sculpting and applied that to fixing damaged religious artifacts for churches, both in Rio and metro Atlanta, charging nothing for her work. “She said she did it for the love of God,” her daughter said.

Roxo moved to Marietta 17 years ago to live close to her daughters, spending most of the ensuing years here with an annual month back in Rio. She never was a Brazilian citizen, but four years ago she became a proud American, her daughter said.

A friend, Marguerite Pons of Marietta, said she thought of Roxo as a beloved aunt, so kind and positive and concerned for others. “With all that sugar,” Pons added, “Lolita had some spice,” noting that Roxo had a lively sense of humor.

Roxo loved shopping for bargains and traveling abroad. She was fluent in four languages: Spanish, Portuguese, French and English, her daughter said.

Also surviving are her husband, Joao Carlos Mascarenhas Roxo; another daughter, Carmen Davenport of Marietta; a son, Carlos del Pino Roxo of Rio de Janeiro, and seven grandchildren.