Family and friends described the late Jodi Kvien Opatz in numerous ways-- caring compassionate and protective. “She would do anything for me,” said her son Jaustin, 10.
Opatz passed away Friday, only two days before she was to celebrate Mother’s Day with Jaustin, his brother Jaiden, 15, and sister Jara, 13.
On a Facebook page created in memory of Opatz, her eldest son Jaiden wished her a happy Mother’s Day on Sunday. Others shared their memories, one recalling her beautiful smile.
Authorities say that long-time Valley City resident Opatz, 38, had called the police department Friday morning reporting two of her dogs had gotten out. When one dog came back soaking wet, Opatz went looking for the other dog, Annabelle, who she later found in the Sheyenne River by the little dam.
In an attempt to rescue her dog, Opatz entered the Sheyenne River where she and her dog died.
Friends say Opatz was very protective of her loved ones, her animals, and especially her three children.
“She would put anyone before her,” explained Shelley Horst-Schmidt, close friend of Opatz.
“She was always there for you to protect you,” Opatz’s daughter Jara said.
Most recently, Opatz had five dogs and three cats. She had been temporarily caring for two dogs for her cousin Matt while he was in the process of moving.
“She sure loved her animals,” Horst-Schmidt maintained.
Opatz’s friends were like family to her. Tiffany Haas, a friend to Opatz, said that Opatz would call her friends her sisters.
Those who knew Opatz well said that she would always look out for others. “She would always check in on her neighbor John,” Horst-Schmidt said.
“We hadn’t talked much recently, but one thing I remember about her is that you could always count on her to have your back no matter what,” explained Sasha Newman, a friend to Opatz.
“She’d talk for hours on the phone,” explained Newman. “We’d spend 2-3 hours talking sometimes.”
As of Sunday, funeral arrangements were still being finalized with the Lerud Schuldt Funeral Home of Valley City.