As a lover of the occult, Raquel Frances Llera-Stern is known for her unique outlook on life. She shared with many of us a lifelong passion for animals and all living things. Her musical talents were a true extension of her depth of character and capacity for self expression. After a sudden and short battle with cancer, Raquel passed away at the age of 31 on October 29 in her childhood home, surrounded by the love of her family and close friends.
Raquel had an innate strength when it came to connecting with others. She was the perfect combination of non-judgmental, odd herself, hilarious and kind. Very much a triple threat, she could act, sing and dance circles around most of us. Raised in a family and community of musicians, Raquel had a dynamic, rich, versatile singing voice that could range from soft and airy to forceful and powerful. She shared her voice with us as part of the bands Fire in the Field and Herban Warfare and in community talent shows and performances.
Her independence was paramount to her character and talent, her intellectual side filled with stunning insights and deep care for those around her. Raquel was a great teacher who readily set an example of how to respect traditions of all kinds, including her own spin on things. We will miss her sense of humor and ability to diffuse tension with a sarcastic quip, and her drive to never take herself too seriously. She loved both the thrill of new adventures--from cross country trips to deeper studies of her interests--and the steadiness of the communities that grounded her--from summers in Maine at Camp Searsmont to Christmas in Negril, Jamaica.
Obsessed with animals from a young age, Raquel committed her life to the pursuit of the human-animal connection. She is known for her ability to help animal owners find unique ways to solve behavioral problems in order to better enjoy their time together. Raquel used these skills throughout her life, first as a groomer’s assistant and vet tech and more recently as a dog trainer and animal behaviorist. She has impacted countless dogs and exotic animals, from her client’s in Massachusetts to the animals in volunteer missions in Jamaica, Utah, and New England. She recently established Raquel's Place For Dogs in Hadley, Massachusetts.
In her own words, Raquel shared her life and home with a mini animal menagerie of her own, including Rio, a Puerto Rican street dog who was her best friend, sidekick, assistant, and soul dog for the past 10 years; Trinidad (Trini) a southern terrier mix, who she adopted after a former client could not handle his specific behavioral rehabilitation needs; Chichi, a 5-year-old bearded dragon, and queen of the house; and George, a 28-year-old Goffin’s Cockatoo who she adopted after his foster sanctuary identified Raquel’s unique connection to him.
Raquel leaves behind her mother, Dalia, father, Rubén, sister, Tania, menagerie (Rio, Chichi, Trini, and George), grandmother Sonia, aunts, uncles and cousins, and a vast community of love.
In recent months, Raquel has been committed to supporting and fundraising for Foster Parrots New England, where she had volunteered on Sundays prior to a devastating fire from which they have not yet fully recovered. She adopted her beloved Cockatoo, George from this facility, and they are now taking care of him. In lieu of flowers, her family asks that donations be made to Foster Parrots New England as they rebuild their facility and create a new future for their animals. Donations can be made here: https://www.fosterparrots.com/support-us-page.