Sarah Marie (Paul) Gatica, 40, a Crookston native, passed away in Altru Hospital, Grand Forks, after a brief, yet valiant, struggle with injuries sustained in an accidental fire early Saturday morning, January 15, 2022, at her residence in Grand Forks.
Sarah was born on May 16, 1981, in Grand Forks, ND, the middle child of three, to proud parents, Michael and Peggy (Miller) Paul of Grand Forks. She was baptized in St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Grand Forks and in 1986 came to Crookston with her family and was confirmed at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. From kindergarten on she attended Crookston public schools and soon made it known to the world that she would become a “social butterfly.” As she began her very active high school years Sarah would glide across the ice with the Crookston Skating Club, dance with the Treasurettes, participate in Leo Club, and exhibit high energy and great school spirit as a cheerleader for Pirate Boys Hockey. Her class was the first to graduate from the new Crookston High School. Sarah enrolled at Bemidji (MN) State College and later moved to Fargo, ND. A few years after that she came to Fisher, MN with her son, Caden, and was employed in the Crookston Public Schools working with troubled youth and later as a para. In 2004 she moved to Grand Forks to run the STEP house for women battling addiction; spending the next decade directing treatment programs designed to battle drug and alcohol addiction. Her fierce advocacy for the women who stayed there resulted in many success stories. Friendships formed from those days continued to follow Sarah as so many who overcame the darkness would keep in touch with Sarah to the present time. On April 28, 2014, she was united in marriage to longtime companion, Chris Gatica, at Daytona, FL. For the last several years ‘Mama Bear’ had been devoting her life to their son, Caden, who she affectionately called her beloved “BooBoo.” She had a soft spot in her heart for the many pet dogs she had over the years. Sarah touched many lives during her 40 years and she will be very sadly missed and lovingly remembered.
Sarah is survived by her son, Caden, who had been living with her; husband, Chris Gatica of Grand Forks; parents, Mike and Peggy Paul of Crookston; brother and sister-in-law, Justin and Kristal Paul of Crookston; and sister and brother-in-law, Kelsey and Kevin Helgeson of Crookston, and their children, her nephews and niece, Riley, Lukas, and Isabelle. Sarah also leaves 2 stepchildren, Chris Gatica Jr. and Kenessa Gatica of Maxwell, TX; and several brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law including: Juan Gatica of Crystal City, TX, and Robert (Sylvia) Gatica Jr, and Corina Valdes, Michael (Micaela) Gatica, Adrian Valdes, and Scott Valdes, all of Crookston; together with many aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends. Sarah is preceded in death by her grandparents: Jim and Anne Paul and Don and Gloria Miller; and father-in-law and mother-in-law, Robert and Idalia Gatica. Treasured and blessed be the memory of Sarah Marie (Paul) Gatica.
Sarah’s life will be celebrated during a Mass of Christian Burial to be held at 10:00 a.m. Saturday, January 22, 2022, in the Cathedral of the Immaculate with The Rev. Joe Richards, presiding. Visitation with the family will be from 9-10:00 a.m. The service will be live-streamed by going to www.crookstoncathedral.com 10 minutes before the scheduled start and clicking on the Funerals prompt to view. The Stenshoel-Houske Funeral Home is assisting Sarah’s family with funeral arrangements. In lieu of flowers please consider a gift in Sarah’s memory that would be used for Caden to further his education.
Messages of condolence may be made at www.stenshoelhouske.com