A 67-year-old Menifee woman was among those killed in a shooting on the Las Vegas strip on Sunday evening, Oct. 1, and the loss of her vibrant and cheerful demeanor was deeply felt by her family and friends.
Pati Mestas was a mother of three, a grandmother of eight and great-grandmother of one who had recently just retired from her job as a manager at a deli inside a Shell gas station in Corona, said her cousin Tom Smith of San Antonio, Texas.
He said she was known for her infectious laughter and seemingly always had a wide-brimmed smile spread out across her face.
“She was always just bubbling with life and with excitement,” he said. “She was the perfect picture of a friend you would want.”
Smith said he grew up with Mestas. The two were among a group of many cousins who lived in the same area.
“We were all together in our first 10-15 years there in Southern California and then my family moved to Texas and we only saw them once a year when we’d go out there on vacation,” Smith said.
The two remained in contact for many years, but fell of touch for a while during the ’80s, Smith said. They reconnected when their grandparents died in the ’90s and been talking ever since.
Smith said Mestas was a devout Christian and her faith was something they talked about when they exchanged messages on Facebook.
Smith said one of his favorite memories of Mestas was when he saw her in March. They had gathered together for a funeral for their last living uncle.
The group of cousins arrived in the Riverside area and went out for dinner. Smith said he was touched by Mestas’ zeal for whatever was happening. He said nothing seemed to let her down.
Even when her car broke down following the funeral, Mestas didn’t drop into frustration or anger, Smith said. She simply arranged to get a ride from a friend.
“It didn’t seem to diminish the glow at all,” he said.
Mestas was a huge Country music fan. That’s something family friend Alexis Magaña, 35, of Riverside learned right away. As a teenager she planned to hang out with Mestas’ son, Brandon, and asked him how she would know which apartment was his.
“He said, ‘Oh you’ll know; it’s the only one blasting country,'” Magaña wrote in a message to the Valley News. “He wasn’t joking. That was Pati though, loving life and listening to music while welcoming her (kid’s) friend in for the first time as if it was the 500th time.”
By the lately 1990s, Magaña and her sister had become extremely close to Pati.
“Pati and Brandon had become part of our family,” she said. “There for every event and gathering big and small. We spent a lot of time together even into adulthood.”
Mestas’ love of country music is what brought her to the Route 91 Harvest country music festival with several of her friends.
She had moved from her position in the center of the crowd toward the front because she wanted to be closer to the stage, Smith said. It was around that time that 64-year-old Stephen Paddock began firing into the crowd from his room in the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
The shooting killed 59 people and injured 527 others.
Smith said the family likes to think Mestas “died with her boots on” or doing something she loved.
Both Smith and Magaña said they would remember a woman who always lived her life to its fullest.
“She was fearless and bold, gave great advice and loved with a completely open heart,” Magaña wrote.