RANTOUL — Vicki Stobaugh remembers when her friend, Tracy Anderson, told her about a man at church who kept looking at her.
He would sit several rows behind her and would move a row closer each Sunday.
Finally, he was sitting beside her.
Nelson Cuevas liked what he saw of Tracy Anderson. But he liked the person even better.
They would later marry and would one day together start Cultivators Latino Center in Rantoul.
That was one of the stories that sprang from a celebration of life service for Tracy Cuevas last Saturday at a packed Crossroads Community Church. Mrs. Cuevas died Dec. 30. She was 53.
The service was aptly named — celebrating the person she was, those she helped and her walk with Christ.
Stobaugh said she first noticed her future friend in high school when she was waiting for the school bus. She admired Cuevas' vintage clothes.
They later attended a Rod Stewart concert together in Chicago, telling their parents they were going to Champaign. Stobaugh said she was so enamored of Stewart that she tried to go on stage with him, which almost got them kicked out, but Cuevas talked the security guards out of it.
"She was always the level-headed one," Stobaugh said.
Stobaugh was maid of honor in her wedding and walked down the aisle with Tracy's dog, Tumbleweeds.
She said Tracy Cuevas was there for her when Stobaugh's father died, and drove through the rain to be with her when her dog died.
She became a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors in 2004 and was ordained a minister of Christian Life Church, Rantoul, in 2005.
She and her husband began a ministry to Hispanic/Latino children in 2003 in the basement of Word of Life Church in Rantoul. The ministry later moved to their home and eventually became the Cultivators Center on Maplewood Drive.
The Rev. Ed Sischo of Word Alive Fellowship said when he heard of Tracy Cuevas' death he thought of Proverbs 31, which describes the characteristics of a virtuous woman — a sentiment echoed by several speakers at the service.
"In short, I loved Tracy, and I know heaven is a better place because she's there," Sischo said.
Alta Stone, who heads the prayer team at Christian Life Church, said she told Tracy that when she licked the cancer that had struck her, they would dance in the church sanctuary.
"She's dancing right now in streets of gold," Stone said. "I will dance in heaven one day with her."
Bill Scott of Christian Life Church said Tracy Cuevas poured out her life "day in and day out" for people and for the church. And when that is the case, "coming to church is a time of refreshing."
He said it was interesting to watch Tracy and Nelson Cuevas bring 10 to 12 6-, 7- and 8-year-olds to church on Wednesday nights and try to make them behave.
"Tracy was a decided introvert," Scott said, adding that when he thinks of her, he thinks of 1 Peter 3:3-4 which says that a woman's beauty should not come from outward adornment but inner beauty from a gentle, quiet spirit.
"Such was the nature of Tracy as we saw her," Scott said.