Tucson community mourns death of “Umbrella Lady”

KOLD News 5-5:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Jan. 9, 2023 at 5:52 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - On Thursday, Lydia Reis, affectionately know as “Umbrella Lady,” was struck by a driver who fled the scene off of Ina and Giaconda.

The Pima County Sheriff’s Department said Guadalupe Solis, 53, was booked on a charge of leaving the scene of an accident.

Reis died from her injuries on Jan. 8. Reis’s death comes as a shock to the community and many are finding ways to honor her memory.

″I broke down into tears and I wished I had taken the time to sit and talk with her some more,” Liz Von Isser said after hearing about Reis’s passing.

She is one of the lucky few who had a chance to meet Reis at a church over 20 years ago.

“She just started dancing and was so joyful and she was twirling and raising her hands and completely unselfconscious,” she explained.

She said meeting her and speaking to her has impacted her life even to this day.

The Umbrella Lady has also had an impact on people she’s never officially met, like Valentina McMahon who set up a memorial for Reis.

“We came here a couple days ago and we’d found out that she’d gotten hurt and we just wanted to do something nice for her,” McMahon said. “We set out the white umbrella for her and it’s so nice to see that other people have been coming by to drop off flowers for her.”

One of the memorials for Reis was set up at the corner of Oracle and Rudasill, an area she was frequently spotted.

″I loved seeing her dresses everyday, just a bright light for the community,” she said.

Another memorial was set up where Reis was hit, near Ina and Giaconda, where many have also come to pay their respects. That’s where Elena Carrillo came to bring her flowers.

″I’ve been coming here almost everyday since she was hit because I think somehow I got connected to her and it really impacted me,” said Carrillo. ″I never saw her face, but I think I saw her soul.”

In addition to the memorials, a local mother and daughter who’ve seen Reis for nearly 30 years started a fundraiser for her.

″My mom just really wanted to do something, so we set up a GoFundMe,” said Samantha Zoltowski. “We didn’t really know what the money was for whether it would be hospital bills or so she wouldn’t be stressed out.”

At last check, they’ve raised close to $10,000 with over 200 donors.

“We are planning on using all of the donations we’ve made so far and any we get toward a public memorial service for her as well as any costs for the funeral and burial,” she explained.