TAMPA — Teresa Gonzalez Cruz always had a smile on her face. It was contagious.
But her life wasn't always as easy as her sweet exterior made it seem.
Born in Tampa in 1933, Mrs. Cruz moved to Cuba with her parents, who worked in cigar factories, when she was a year old.
There she met Carlos Cruz Sr. The two wed and moved to Tampa in 1954. He had just $14 in his pocket, said the couple's daughter, Maura Lanz of Tampa.
The couple eventually opened a barber shop, Carlos Hairstyling on Armenia Avenue, and cut hair until retirement.
"They both had a hard life and they struggled, but they were living the American dream," Lanz said.
On Sunday, that dream came to a crashing halt when Natalie Gassett, 33, ran a red light at the intersection of Himes Avenue and Spruce Street, police said, and the couple's car became one of five in the crash.
Mrs. Cruz, 76, died from her injuries that afternoon, police said. Her 81-year-old husband was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital, where he is in intensive care.
No charges have been announced in the crash.
"She was so embracing and welcoming," said Aimee Cruz, the wife of the couple's son, Carlos Cruz Jr. "She just made you feel like part of the family instantly."
Mrs. Cruz, who is also survived by daughter Marilyn Guy of Wesley Chapel, took pride in her seven grandchildren and five great grandchildren. Her love for sewing never faded.
On a chair in her dining room Monday night sat fabric that would have been her next blouse.
Shelley Rossetter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3374.