Obituary: Stephanie Maya

Obituary: Stephanie Maya

Stephanie Maya, 54, died on July 20, after fighting chronic late-stage Lyme disease for 17 years.

Stephanie Maya
Stephanie Maya

Stephanie Maya, 54, died on July 20, after fighting chronic late-stage Lyme disease for 17 years.

Stephanie was born on March 2, 1968, in Philadelphia, Penn. She was raised as a young child, until the age of 5, by her beloved grandmother and grandfather, whom she lovingly called Babbi and Zaydee.

She was a Cuban American Jew who spoke English, Spanish, Hebrew and Yiddish fluently.

Stephanie, at a very early age, had a strong heartfelt desire to help those that needed help. This continued throughout her life and her professional career, by volunteering at homeless shelters, children’s hospitals, and her work with the United Way, along with spending time helping other charitable causes.

On the day after her 25th birthday, Stephanie was hit by a drunk driver, suffering horrendous injuries and almost died. Her physical therapist said she would never walk again. Stephanie said, “Give me a new physical therapist” and did much more than walk again.

Stephanie had to learn to write with her other hand and went on to earn two master’s degrees in two years. A Master of Public Health (MPH) in Community Medicine from the University of Washington Seattle and a Master of Health Administration (MHA) from the University of Washington Seattle. She also was a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES). She was a graduate of the National Hispanic Leadership Institute (NHLI) and is included in “Who’s Who Among Hispanic Americans.”

Stephanie took two years off from her career to provide loving care for her grandmother, who had Alzheimer’s disease, in her grandmother’s home and Stephanie cherished every minute of it, including her grandmother in everything she did and ensuring that her grandmother enjoyed the rest of her life to the fullest by taking her to events, dinners and the beach.

Stephanie made significant contributions in the area of advising on chronic diseases with a concentration on special populations and vulnerable populations. She built and fostered network relationships between organizations and individuals, especially of children, families and caregivers and Latino communities.

Stephanie had an eight-year illustrious career with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). She advised and provided technical assistance and training in developing of the Chronic Disease Program in the States, U.S. Territories, and Nation Networks. She worked on programs to improve health care, which would also reduce racial and ethnic disparities. She also served on many national work groups on issues such as Healthy People 2000 and 2010, Managed Care, National Hispanic Health Agenda, Diversity and Migrant Health.

She presented at many national and state conferences, among other speaking engagements, including the White House. Stephanie served as a National/International Media Spokesperson and Expert for the Centers for Disease Control on tobacco issues.

She made major contributions towards studying and overseeing programs to reduce exposure of the health impacts of secondhand smoke and clinical interventions to reduce exposure of children to environmental tobacco smoke, and the overall impact of secondhand smoke on public health.

Stephanie was always happy, upbeat, enjoyed life, was outgoing, kind and friendly to everyone. With her loveable personality she made friends easily, always cherished her friends and family and let them know it throughout her life. Stephanie enjoyed old movies, family movies, family TV, cultural events and travel.

She loved all types of music, had an extensive playlist and could quickly memorize the lyrics to songs. Stephanie was a very good dancer and loved to dance for hours. Above all, she enjoyed helping people.

Stephanie met her husband, Scott, in 2016 in Dunwoody, Ga., and they married in 2019. They lived together along with Stephanie’s little service dog, FiFi-Hope, who was the absolute love of her life and FiFi returned the love. Stephanie and FiFi were always together and were inseparable, ever since FiFi was born 10 years ago. Stephanie, Scott and FiFi enjoyed watching family TV shows, old classic movies on TCM and going for walks on nice days in the park.

In 2007, Stephanie contracted Lyme disease, which went misdiagnosed for 5 years before it was finally diagnosed. Stephanie pushed through severe disabling symptoms with her can-do attitude and love for life to continue to enjoy life to its fullest. She will be missed by many.

Stephanie is survived by her loving husband, Scott, and loving little service dog, FiFi-Hope, who Stephanie named FiFi-Hope as Stephanie always had Hope. Stephanie is also survived by her mother, Evita Maya, father, Solomon Maya and brother, Lonnie Maya. Memorial service and eulogy took place on July 22 by Rabbi Mark Hillel Kunis and Rabbi Joshua Heller. Dressler’s Jewish Funeral Care, 770-451-4999.

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