Raymond Abram Alanis
March 16, 1926 – September 25, 2022
“Ray” was born in Keeler, California to Jesusita Moreno Alanis and Jesus Alanis. He was the middle child of seven children, Rudy, Manuel, and Magdalena were older and Angela, Suzanna and Vicente were younger. Ray was the prankster travieso that kept Rudy and Manuel busy watching after and often disciplining their little brother who managed to keep everyone on their toes. After his mother passed when he was only twelve he moved to Arizona to live with his grandmother. Ray was drafted during World War II and served one tour in the Navy and one tour in the Marines. Most of his deployment was spent in Okinawa. He returned to the U.S from military duty in 1946 and lived in Arizona and eventually made his way to Long Beach and San Pedro, California where he lived for many years and at some point, become a sign painter. He married Patsy Garcia and had seven children with her: Patty, Jimmy, Linda, Raymond, Rita, Ronnie and Darlene. He was married for fourteen years before getting divorced, once his children were grown, he moved back to Arizona. He was a bachelor for fourteen years when he met Elma in Tucson. They married and had two daughters Lizeth and Sarah. Ray and Elma moved to New Mexico in the early ‘80’s where he continued to be a sign painter and taught Elma to paint as well. They worked as travelling sign painters, painting billboards up and down I-40 for a few years. When their daughter Sarah was born, and Lizeth needed to start school they decided to make their permanent home in Belen. They opened their own billboard company called RELS Outdoor Advertising, RELS is an acronym for Ray, Elma, Lizeth and Sarah. People often referred to Ray as Mr. Rels, not knowing that wasn’t his last name. He never corrected them. They hand painted billboards, signs, and decorative cutouts for over forty years together and at their peak had over one hundred faces, many on I-25. Ray “retired” in the 90’s, but never really put the brush down. He was still up on a plank painting alongside his wife until he was 91. Ray’s vision had diminished significantly by this time, and he finally had to call it quits. He was an avid boxing and football fan and loved his Philadelphia Eagles. Ray enjoyed traveling and spent a lot of time on the road with his family driving across the southwest and even down through Baja California Mexico. He was directionally challenged and had earned the nickname Wrong Way Ray, which he lovingly embraced. He was never lost, just showing his family a new, much longer route to their destination.
Ray was a gregarious yet warm, compassionate, and generous man who loved everyone. He was also known for being a shameless flirt who loved everyone. He was an extremely talented painter specializing in hand lettering, which he hated doing, his fine painting skills could not be rivaled. He was creative in every way and often came up with unique solutions for repairs. He had a fighter’s spirit who never ever gave up and fought to the very end.
Ray was preceded in death by his parents Jesus and Jesusita, his siblings Rudy, Manuel, Magdelena, Angela and Vicente, his sons Jimmy and Ronnie, and granddaughter Mireya. He is survived by his children Patty, Linda, Raymond, Rita, Darlene, Lizeth and Sarah, son-in-law Marc, several grandchildren, and great grandchildren. His grandson’s Nick and Siah and granddaughters Milla and D’Anna had the honor of being a huge part of his final years on Earth. His beloved wife Elma followed him in death thirty-three hours later.
Ray was cared for by Sarah with the loving support of her husband Marc Lopez for the last three years of his life. Nick Alanis also cared for him on and off for the last six months of his life. He was very grateful to them for the love and support they gave him in this time. He died of natural causes peacefully surrounded by his family.
A private funeral burial to be held October 3, 2022.
Elma Lourdes Alanis
November 6, 1959 – September 27, 2022
Elma was born in Mocorito, Sinaloa, Mexico to Genoveva Lopez Quintero. She was the oldest of eleven children, Jose, Elsa, Jesus, Carmen, Lupita, Manuel, Julio, Juanito, Pedro and Suzzy. She left home at the age of fourteen to live with her beloved great-uncle Tio Valta who had a horse ranch in Culiacan, Mexico. She spent a few years on the ranch where she developed a love for horse riding and training. She could break even the toughest stallion. Upon completing secondary school at sixteen years old she moved to Mexico City where she began studying law and had planned to become an attorney. However, life has a way of changing courses and she decided to make her way to the U.S. She trekked from Mexico City by foot, bus and train all the way to Nogales where she crossed into America and made her first home in Tucson, Arizona. She met Raymond Alanis in the late 70’s and they married and had two daughters Lizeth and Sarah. Elma and Ray moved to New Mexico in the early 80’s and she began learning to hand paint signs. They worked as travelling sign painters, painting billboards up and down I-40 for a few years. When their daughter Sarah was born, and Lizeth needed to start school they decided to make their permanent home in Belen. They opened their own billboard company called RELS Outdoor Advertising, RELS is an acronym for Ray, Elma, Lizeth and Sarah. They hand painted billboards, signs and decorative cutouts for over forty years together and at their peak had over one hundred faces, many on I-25. Elma became a very talented painter and specialized in large scale pictorials of automobiles, portraits and animals. Her true passion was painting retablos of Jesus and many saints and cutouts of cartoon characters which she would donate to churches and schools at Christmas time. She loved dressing up as Mrs. Clause and going to local elementary schools where she would give out hundreds of cutouts to children for many years. She was known for her tamales, which were not typical New Mexico tamales, they were large and wrapped differently. She would make dozens of tamales through the holidays and would give to her close friends and clients. She was very secretive about her tamale recipe and refused to share with her daughters and consequently has taken the recipe with her. She loved watering her lawn and her many rose bushes that bloomed continuously throughout the summer. When reminded that New Mexico is going through a drought she would respond with “I pay my water bill, mind your business”.
Elma was a kindhearted and generous woman who was very protective of her daughters. She loved her husband so much that when he could no longer see well enough to paint, she would set him up with a brush in front of outlined sections so that he could fill in the rest. She was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2019 and developed a severe tremor on her right side ending her painting career. She declined rapidly after she could no longer work and was truly devastated that she could not care for her much older husband at the end of his life.
Elma was preceded in death by her beloved abuelita Conchita, younger brother Juanito and granddaughter Mireya. She is survived by her daughters Lizeth and Sarah, son-in-law Marc, grandsons Nick and Siah, and granddaughters Milla and D’Anna. She was cared for by Sarah with the loving support of her husband Marc Lopez for the last three years of her life. Nick Alanis also cared for her on and off for the last six months of her life. She was very grateful to them for the love and support they gave her in this time. She passed away quietly in her sleep thirty-three hours after Ray had passed.
A private funeral to be held October 3, 2022, and her ashes will be spread at a later date.