|Leslie in Austin
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Date: 4/7/12 0:06 AM
"Caterina Cabezas recalls walking into the Fabric Shop in South Austin 25 years ago and finding more than fabric. "I found an amazing friendship," she said. The store's proprietor, Josefina Lopez de Rocha, took her under her wing.
"Josefina introduced me to her family and to her church," said Cabezas. Rocha, the owner of the Fabric Shop for 46 years, died Thursday. She was 94 and died of heart failure after a recent fall, a family member said.
The small store, opened in 1966, was a throwback, surviving the larger stores and national chains that dominate the fabric business. It is located in the Twin Oaks shopping center at South Congress Avenue and Oltorf Street, just two blocks from where Rocha raised her family.
"Mom worked until Feb. 16. She's come to answer questions and the phone. She was an expert on installing zippers," said her daughter, Gloria Rocha, who joined her mother in the business in 1974.
Born and raised in Austin, Josefina Rocha graduated from Austin High School in 1934. Finding a job was difficult, so a relative who worked in the print shop at the University of Texas encouraged her to start her own business.
She opened a print shop in East Austin. "Oh, she was a radical," said her daughter. "She printed posters advertising dances, death notices that were passed out at funerals and also personalized Christmas cards."
Rocha also noticed the lack of newspaper coverage of her Mexican American community. She began publishing "El Organo," a Spanish-language magazine featuring news, poetry and people stories. She married Andres Rocha, a gasoline station owner, in 1948, and they had two children, Gloria and Mario.
After raising a family, she opened the Fabric Shop because she loved to sew. "She'd made all our clothes as children," said Gloria Rocha.
The fabric store was more than a business, Gloria Rocha said.
"She loved interacting with people. Oh, she was a talker," she said.
Josefina Rocha is survived by her daughter and son and four grandchildren. Her husband, Andres, died in 1997."
Austin American-Statesman article>