Deaths and funerals (02/13/14)
Lara Carbajal, fondly remembered as Lois (Wilson) Carbajal, was born in West Texas on Aug. 19, 1939, and grew up on a farm in Hobbs, one mile inside the New Mexico line.
She attended college with music and academic scholarships, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in music and education. She taught choral music in middle school and high school the first four years after receiving her New Mexico teaching certification in the Belen and Los Lunas public school systems.
While in New Mexico, Lara married a man who became a state representative and they had three handsome sons and one lovely daughter.
Throughout her teaching career, she prepared her students for positions in the All-Region choirs, All-State choirs and scholarships to universities. A few years later, she relocated and accepted a choral director’s position in the Friendswood Public School System, south of Houston, Texas. She spent the next 26 years in the Houston area.
Her choral groups won many awards, sweepstakes and Best in Class at choral festivals and University Scholastic League judging. She directed musicals, and each year her students performed a minimum of two concerts, in addition to community shows with her show choir at hospitals, etc.
She was a member of the Texas Music Educators’ Association, the Texas Choral Directors’ Association and the American Choral Directors’ Association.
Lara wrote a curriculum that was used throughout her school district titled, “Teaching non-English speaking adolescents English Through Music.” She was chosen Teacher of the Year by her peers and is listed in two editions of Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers because of her student’s nominations.
She continued her education through classes and clinics at various colleges and universities, concentrating much of her energy toward her master’s degree from the University of Houston. Concurrently, Lara developed an adult church choir and served as music director in a large church in Houston for many years.
She arranged, wrote script, and often composed music performed at holidays and special events. Over an eight year period, her annual patriotic tribute for the Fourth of July was enjoyed by thousands.
For a short time, Lara left teaching and became the top national sales consultant for Princeton Industries, a fundraising company. She helped schools raise money for reading programs, etc.
She was asked to give sales training and motivational talks within the company and for other businesses. She enjoyed it but felt her calling was teaching music, so she resumed her teaching career. She toured many countries in Europe three times with a Houston dance band. Independently she traveled the United States, Canada and Mexico, and she sang with the Houston Symphony Chorus.
In the late ’90s, Lara moved back to New Mexico to be with her family. She spent lots of time between Albuquerque and Denver, Colo. Many years prior to all of the above, a naive young woman, Lois (Wilson) Carbajal, was a sophomore home from college when she was coaxed into entering their first ever local Miss America pageant.
In a whirlwind of unexpected events she won the title of Miss Hobbs, Miss New Mexico and competed in the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City. These were new, exciting and awesome (first) experiences, and she vowed to return soon to Atlantic City to attend the pageant as an alumni.
But life had other plans for Lara; Atlantic City became a distant, faded memory, overshadowed with continuing education, marriage, children, career, changes and challenges, extreme grief and tragedies, triumphs and joys.
Through the years, even decades of “life being life,” she bore little resemblance to that young girl in the Miss America Pageant. As is only natural, age and maturity especially in her senior years molded her into a woman who viewed life with much more wisdom and faith, authenticity, courage, acceptance, gratitude, compassion, joy and love. She always reminded us that the opposite of fear is faith.
There is truly an Unseen Power, and miracles occur throughout our lives with or without our conscious awareness. Lara was granted her wish of fulfilling an almost forgotten promise to return to Atlantic City, representing New Mexico and performing on the very stage she had performed on in the Miss America Pageant so many years ago. She sang in the Ms. Senior America Pageant as not only a contestant but an alumni.
Lara viewed life with a positive attitude, anticipation and enthusiasm. In 2006 she taught the Denver based United Airline flight attendants the music that would be sung at the memorial to the crew of 9/11’s Flight 93 and flew with them to Shanksville, Penn., for their dedication.
Up until her illness, she continued to perform and to teach music part-time and lovingly care for her family.
Lara passed away at the University of Colorado Hospital from heart disease on Dec. 16, 2013.
Lara is survived by her loving husband, Dick Carbajal; daughter, Francine Carbajal-Mennenoh; son, David Carbajal; brother, Don F. Shea; sister, Della Dancer; and grandchildren, BreAnna Grace Mennenoh, Dylan Carbajal and Daniel Carbajal.
She was preceded in death by her beloved sons, Richard Jr. and Donald Ray Carbajal.
A memorial service was held in Lara’s memory on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013, at Horan & McConaty Family Chapel, in Aurora, Colo. Another service was held on Jan. 4 at French Funeral Home on Wyoming Blvd. in Albuquerque.
The family would like to thank all of their many friends and family for the prayer, support and kindness that they we have received.
Please share memories of Lara and condolences with her family at HoranCares.com. French – Wyoming, 7121 Wyoming Blvd. NE, 823-9400.
Ismael “Smiley” Cordova
Ismael “Smiley” Cordova, age 78, a resident of Belen, passed away peacefully at home surrounded by his family on Wednesday, Feb. 5.
He was born on May 17, 1935, in Los Chavez. Smiley owned and operated Belen Consumer Finance for 25 years. He was an active parishioner at Our Lady of Belen Catholic Church. He and Kandy served together at the church up until his illness.
He was an original cast member of La Gran Pastorela de Belen for more than 30 years. Smiley proudly served in the United States Army National Guard. He was a member of the Knights of Columbus, Elks Lodge, Moose Lodge and the Valencia County Sheriff’s Posse.
Smiley took pleasure in talking to folks and discussing their ancestry. He enjoyed family reunions and talking about the good old days in Los Chavez. He loved his horses, classic cars, classic movies and classic music — most notably, Gene Autry. Most of all he loved helping those in need and he loved his family and brought much love, loyalty and generosity to their lives.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Cristobal and Placida Gabaldon Cordova.
Smiley is survived by his loving wife of 57 years, Kandy Sanchez Cordova; daughters, Pamela and Sharon Cordova; sons, Christopher and Joe Cordova; daughter-in-law, Bernadine Cordova; grandchildren, Christopher Cordova Jr., Marysa Cordova, Maria Cordova Brown and Noah Cordova; sister, Nila Romero; and beloved nieces, nephews and good friends.
All services were held at Our Lady of Belen Catholic Church, with Father Stephen Schultz presiding. Interment followed at Our Lady of Belen Memorial Gardens.
Pallbearers were Tony Mora, Charlie Carrejo, Gilbert Chavez, Christopher Cordova Jr., Leo Chavez and Joe Tarin. Honorary pallbearers were George Chavez, Al Padilla, Ita Archibeque, Dennis Luna and Mike Melendez.
Sign Smiley’s online tribute at www.romerofuneralhomenm.com. Romero Funeral Home, 609 N. Main St., Belen.
Hugh Neil Harrison
Hugh Neil Harrison, loving husband, father and grandfather, age 86, and a resident of Los Lunas, passed away on Sunday, Feb. 9. He was born on June 23, 1927.
He was preceded in death by his parents, five brothers and three sisters.
Mr. Harrison is survived by his beloved wife of 34 years, Jo Ellen Harrison; his children, Neil, Julie, David, Deborah, Cindy, Christina and Thomas; and multiple grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Cremation has taken place and a memorial service will be held at 12:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 13, at the Riverside Funeral Home of Los Lunas Chapel with burial to follow at Terrace Grove Cemetery, at 1200 W. Aragon in Belen.
A gathering will then take place at the Belen Community Center, 305 Eagle Lane in Belen.
Please visit the online guest register for Mr. Harrison at www.riversidefunerals.com. Arrangements entrusted to Riverside Funeral Home of Los Lunas, 820 Main St. NE, Los Lunas, 565-1700.
Billie Johnson, age 88, passed away on Wednesday, Jan. 29.
Billie was born May 25, 1925, to Claude and Elizabeth Perkins in Saginaw, Mich., where her brother and sister still reside.
She is survived by three children, Carol, Don and Bill; numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be planned at a later time.
Arrangements are being handled by the caring professionals at the Noblin Funeral Service Los Lunas Chapel, 2211-D Main St., 866-9992.
Benjamin Quintin Massegee Jr.
Benjamin Quintin Massegee Jr., age 90, a resident of Los Lunas, went to be with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on Sunday, Feb. 9.
Benjamin proudly served his country in the United States Army during WWII. He was a Teamster for 35 years supporting his family. He learned to fly in his younger years. Benjamin enjoyed woodworking, hunting, fishing, water skiing and most of all spending time with his family.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Benjamin Quintin Sr. and Mary Ashlock Massegee; and 10 siblings.
Benjamin is survived by his loving wife of 66 years, Anna Lee Massegee; eight children and their spouses, 19 grandchildren, 31 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild. Benjamin will be truly missed by all who knew him.
A visitation will be held at 9:30 a.m., Thursday, Feb. 13, at the First Baptist Church of Los Lunas, with a funeral service at 10 a.m. Interment will follow at Terrace Grove Cemetery.
Sign Benjamin’s online tribute at www.romerofuneralhomenm.com. Romero Funeral Home, 609 N. Main St., Belen.
Marie Elizabeth Padilla
Marie Elizabeth Padilla, age 58, passed away on Feb. 7.
She was born in Silver City on Feb. 14, 1956, and was a resident of Peralta since 1978. She worked for the federal government for more than 33 years. She was an avid University of New Mexico Lobo’s fan.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Theresa and Horacio Grijalva.
Marie is survived by her husband of 38 years, Ronny; two daughters, Melissa and Krystal; three grandchildren, Dominic, Michael and Kalaya; and her brother, Michael Grijalva.
Visitation will take place beginning at 9:30 a.m., Friday, Feb. 14, at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Peralta, with a Rosary to be recited at 10 a.m. Communion service will be celebrated at 11 a.m., and burial will follow at the Valencia Cemetery.
Please visit the online guest register for Marie at www.riversidefunerals.com. Arrangements entrusted to Riverside Funeral Home of Los Lunas, 820 Main St. NE, Los Lunas, 565-1700.