Elizabeth Haacke Cruz, was affectionately known to everyone as “Bubu,” which means Grandmother in the Marshallese language.
Bubu was born on October 22, 1948, in Likiep, Marshall Islands, to the late Paul and Kathleen Haacke. Elizabeth “Bubu” was the fifth of nine children who are all named in alphabetical order: Agnes, Bertha, Carl, Delma, Elizabeth, Francis, Gustino, Hillary and Irene. She is pre-deceased by her parents and her son, Paul Cruz, her sister, Agnes DeBrum, her brothers, Carl Haacke, Francis Haacke, and Hillary Haacke, and her granddaughter Marisol Capri Cruz. She leaves behind her husband, Enrique “Rick” Cruz, sisters, Bertha DeBrum (Orlando), Delma Fletcher, Irene Hernandez and brother Gustino Haacke (Helbine), her three children: Debbie Cruz-Bair (Rocky), Lynn Cruz-Black (Timothy), Jason Cruz (Carolina), her 15 grand-children, Tyler Cruz, Ebone Prescott, Autumn Cruz, Kaela Boyden, Paul Joshua Cruz, Hannah Gallagher (Trent), Jason “Woody” Cruz, Gabriel “Gabe” Cruz, Robert “Tuey” Boyden, Brooke Bair, Layla Black, Bradley Bair, Leia Lani Black, Blake Bair and Antonella Cruz, and her four great-grandchildren, Ava Gallagher, Alakai Gallagher, Jazmyn Cruz and Sirena Cruz, and a plethora of nieces, nephews and friends who love and adore her.
Bubu was full of life and energy and was considered the free-spirited member of her family and equally caring. She attended Mount Carmel Catholic School in Saipan with intentions of entering the convent as a nun, after a few years, she realized that this was not the right path for her. She completed high school at Mount Carmel and returned to the Marshall Islands. A few years after graduating from Mount Carmel, she met and married Rick. Shortly after Debbie was born, their family moved to St. Croix, Virgin Islands where her husband was a contractor for the military as an Electronics Technician. Her children, Lynn and Jason were born while living in St. Croix and Bubu immersed herself in the care of her children and home.
In 1976, she and her young family relocated to Maryland, when her husband began working with NASA. Moving to the mainland with few extended family members, Bubu quickly made friends whom she cherished. Since moving so far from Home (The Marshall Islands) and missing her brothers and sisters, her connection to Home was her sister Delma, who lived in North Carolina. She had a special bond with Delma and spent every Summer in North Carolina to make sure that her children had a connection to their island roots. When Bubu wasn’t visiting with her sister in North Carolina, she spoke to her sister every single day for at least the past 30 years. She always opened her home to any family member who wanted to come to the mainland to continue their education. Many people gravitated towards her because she was a source of light and joyful happiness. She had an amazing love for those around her and she made everyone feel like they were a part of her family. As the Matriarch of the family and the glue that kept everyone together, she was often looked upon as the neighborhood mom. She was a super-mom to her kids and any other child that found their way to her home. As her children approached high school, she began working as a Teacher’s Aide at Henson Valley Montessori school while simultaneously working as a florist. As is customary in our culture, once her grandchildren were born, she began her new career as a “travelling grandmother”. Bubu gave her all to those who knew her, making everyone feel special, and we all felt her love.
While enduring a tough battle with cancer, she called out to her Faith, insisting that the family immerse themselves in a daily Rosary. Bubu was surrounded by her loved ones as she passed away peacefully on January 23, 2024, at 9:28 am, at the age of 75. Her earthly presence will be sorely missed but her legacy lives on in those whom she left behind.
Bubu…you will never be forgotten. We promise you that we will take care of each other, and we will make sure that all the future generations know who you are.