Our living treasure Juanita R. Chavez, 89, of Los Alamos, transitioned peacefully September 10, 2022 with her Lord and Savior. Her beautiful soul left this world surrounded by her family.
Juanita was born in Torreon, NM on May 9, 1933, to Juan and Maria Chavez. She attended Estancia School district completing the 8th grade. She lived in Albuquerque, NM with her sisters Cecilia Sanchez and Nestora Baca cleaning homes for affluent families.
Juanita met Arsenio Chavez who was employed with the Zia Company, and they were married January 2, 1954. Arsenio moved his young bride up on the hill to work in support of the mission at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory. They lived in the Sundt Apartments where they met many life-long friends. Eventually, they moved to the Denver Steels housing area where they raised their young family and made Los Alamos their lifetime home.
Juanita was a homemaker, raising her young family of nine. She was meticulous at ironing and heavy starching mens dress shirts and helped to supplement the family income whenever she could. She was also a housekeeper for many Los Alamos folks and took great pride in caring for their homes. She made great friendships with her clients throughout the years.
In the mid 70s, Juanita was hired by her friend Mrs. Bobby Bradshaw to help run the Zia Company Snack Bar where many Craft and LANL employees gathered for breakfast and lunch. She went on to work with Zia Company as a custodian and also worked for Pan Am World Services and Johnson Controls prior to her retirement. Juanita loved her employer and the wonderful people she worked with. She was known for the pride, loyalty, and dedication she put into her job.
Later in life she had the opportunity to care for a young woman with Down syndrome. They developed a lasting relationship sharing many days playing games, and caring for her daily needs.
Juanita was predeceased by her husband Arsenio Chavez, parents Juan and Maria Chavez, in laws Melquiades and Clarita Chavez, brother Manuel Chavez, sisters Ramona Montoya, Nestora Baca and Monica Chavez, and her beloved first-born son Anthony. She was also predeceased by many sister and brother in-laws.
Surviving Juanita are her sons and daughters: Guadalupe (Frank) Archuleta, Johnny (Barbara) Chavez, Kathy Chavez, Lee (Becky) Chavez, Lucille Chavez, Therese (Gabe) Cole, Margaret (Scott) Larkin, Regina (James) Lujan, and Abran (Dawn) Chavez; brothers Alonso, Carmel, Jose, Pablo, and Juan Chavez; sisters Cecilia Sanchez and Susie Perea; grandchildren Christopher and Francesca Archuleta, Erin Chavez (Daniel), Valerie (James) Davis, Jennifer (Jesse) Gaytan, Rodney (Adrina) Chavez, Felicia (Tony) Klitch, Jaimie Rodarte, Ryan Westerhold, Kevin (Sara) McCurdy, Katrina (Andy) Maksimowski, Kurtis McCurdy, James (Laureana) Larkin, Ariana (Cameron) Stern, Ashley Herrera, Andrew Herrera, Santiago (Vanessa) Lujan, Joaquin Lujan, Shelby Lynne Chavez (Graham) and Magdalena Chavez; great-grandchildren, Dominik (Madisen), Cooper, Jake, Brooklyn, Kobe, Adreya, Nickolas, Alena, Karson, Karlee, Miles, Nolan, Charlotte, Jaxon, Jaylon, Sean, Ruby, Raven; and great-great grandson Asher. As well as many wonderful in-laws, compadres, nieces, and nephews.
Juanita was a devoted wife to her loving husband Arsenio for 42 years. She was a loving mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, great great grandmother, sister, aunt, Godmother, adopted mother, and friend to many. She cared deeply for everyone she met and knew.
Juanita was a devout Catholic and a woman of great faith all her life. She was devoted to the saints as her intercessories and especially to St. Anthony of Padua, the Infant Jesus, and our Blessed Mother. She loved to cook, which is said to be the way to a person’s heart. She captured this by preparing many pots of green chile, red chile, the best pinto beans you ever tasted, fabulous pork tamales, tortillas, pastelitos, natillas and so much more. She spread her joy and love of cooking to all those with whom she shared her life.
She had two parishes during her life – St. Anthony Parish in her hometown of Torreon and Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Los Alamos, where she was a faithful parishioner for more than 65 years. She was the lead for Las Posadas, praying the novena to the Nativity of the Holy Family and the Infant Jesus for more than 50 years during the Advent season. She loved every priest she ever met. Juanita was a member of the Torreon Women’s Auxiliary and the Knights of Columbus Ladies Auxiliary.
When Juanita’s mother was passing, she wasn’t able to make it in time to say her final goodbye. On arrival, Juanita entered her mother’s home and spoke out saying, “Dejaste un rincon vacio”, which means, “You have left an empty corner”. We will now have that void in our hearts, but we will fill the void with all the many beautiful lessons she taught and gave us. We will carry on with the strength and fortitude she showed us as she endured a long battle with Parkinson’s. Her amazing character, love for the lord, and her strong faith will be a part of us forever.
A special thank you to her Amber Care Hospice Nurses Sande and Alaina and all the Giving Home Health Care providers especially Lisa, Monica, Maryann, and Elena. Our family is truly grateful for all the wonderful care our mother received.
A Rosary and Mass of Christian Burial will be held Sept. 30, 2022 at 9:30 AM at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Los Alamos, NM. Internment will be October 1, 2022 in Torreon, NM, where she will be laid to rest with her beloved husband Arsenio.
Pallbearers: Christopher Archuleta, Rodney Chavez, Ryan Westerhold, Kevin McCurdy, James Larkin, Erin Chavez and Shelby Chavez.
Honorary Pallbearers: Kurtis McCurdy, Andrew Herrera, Johnny Perea, Arlene Perea and Carl Chavez.
The family has entrusted Juanita’s care to Rivera Family Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Immaculate Heart of Mary Christian Concern Committee.