By Angela Greenwood

MODESTO (CBS13) — The Modesto community is mourning the sudden death of a preschool teacher and new mother.

Stephanie Kessler went to the hospital to be treated for asthma but never made it home. The 35-year-old leaves behind a two-month-old baby, and now the school she served for so long is stepping in.

“That’s all she ever wanted to be was a mommy and it’s kind of messed up that she only enjoyed it for 10 weeks,” said Ismael Iniguez, fiance of Stephanie Kessel.

After trying for 10 years, the couple’s family was blessed with a baby girl two months ago. Iniguez said Stephanie loved every second of motherhood.

“All she cared about was her daughter.”

But two weeks ago, the 35-year-old who often had asthma flare-ups, suffered a severe attack. Iniguez says she couldn’t go to the Kaiser emergency room with an infant, so before she left she made a couple of bottles for her baby, while Iniguez installed her breathing treatment in her car. By the time Stephanie made it to the hospital, it was too late.

“They couldn’t save her.”

Stephanie had been a longtime preschool teacher in Modesto, most recently at Merryhill School for the last 11 years, where she worked in the infant room.

Principal Sheila Yarbrough described her as loving and selfless.

“The parents loved having her greet them at the door when they dropped off their little ones,” said Yarbrough.

While she’ll be missed at the school, a part of her will still be present. Merryhill Schools has decided to take care of tuition for her daughter until she’s 7 years old.

“That’s amazing, really amazing. I couldn’t ask for more from them,” said Iniguez.

Iniguez says what’s also amazing is the outpouring of support from family, friends, and strangers.

“I am just so grateful. I never knew how many good people there are in the world.”

A deadly asthma attack taking the life of a new mother just as her family started to grow.

Stephanie’s family says it’s unclear if her asthma attack was brought on by allergies, but they hope to determine that after an autopsy is performed.

She will be laid to rest during a service Saturday afternoon at Lakewood Funeral Home in Modesto. The service starts at 1 p.m.

A gofundme has also been created in her honor.


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