Victoria Maria McCarthy passed away peacefully on March 14, 2022. The beautiful, talented, and vivacious Victoria inspired all those around her with her joyful spirit, fierce curiosity, intelligence, and love of life, travel, and cultures, particularly those of Mexico and the country of her birth, Spain. Her life was a dramatic hopscotch through many episodes in the history of the 20th century.
Victoria was born in Santander on the northern coast of Spain on March 9, 1928. A decade later, her parents, Jorge and Victoria de la Riva, found themselves caught in the tumult of the Spanish Civil War. As supporters of the Republicans against Franco, they were forced to flee in January of 1939 when Victoria was 11, leaving all they had in Barcelona. Luckily they were able to cross into France, and lived in Paris until they secured passage to Ellis Island, New York. At that time, refugees from the Spanish Civil War were not allowed entry into the United States, but they were warmly welcomed in Mexico. Victoria’s father, an experienced civil engineer, and her mother, a school administrator, quickly found work and they began their lives in their adopted country.
Eventually the de la Riva family moved to the beautiful city of Guadalajara, Jalisco, where Victoria enrolled in the School of Medicine at the University of Guadalajara. She graduated in 1950, one of only three women in her medical school class of 75. She was offered and accepted a residency in anesthesia at the University of Chicago Medical School. She arrived at the University of Chicago in 1952, where she quickly became everybody’s favorite, especially of a certain resident in surgery, Jack D. McCarthy. They married in Guadalajara in May, 1953. Jack entered the Army Medical Corps and in January 1954 they were sent to Darmstadt, Germany and a year later to Wurzburg. Those postwar years in Germany were fascinating for them and they relished traveling around Europe and Spain, including visiting Victoria’s family that had remained in Spain after the Civil War.
Returning to Chicago, Victoria finished her anesthesia internship while Jack continued his surgical residency at the University. They then moved to Ann Arbor to continue their training at the University of Michigan and where their daughters, Leslie and Silvia, were born. Jack subsequently received a Guggenheim Foundation grant which sent the couple and their young family off to Gothenburg, Sweden for a remarkable year.
They returned to the United States, where Jack joined the Lovelace Clinic in Albuquerque. Victoria and her daughters spent every summer in Mexico with Victoria’s family, including her mother and her beloved brother Jorge and his family. She insisted on bringing up her daughters bi-culturally with a fierce loyalty and love for their Hispanic background. She succeeded.
In Albuquerque, Victoria found many Spanish-speaking friends through the Pan American Round Table. She also formed close friendships with an enormous group of fun-loving, close-knit Latina friends who celebrated birthdays monthly for over thirty years. One her greatest joys after her girls were grown was attending the University of New Mexico, where she took classes in history, literature, and anthropology for years, befriending both students and professors alike.
Victoria was widely renowned for her frequent and incredible parties full of interesting people. She was a superb cook who loved nothing more than preparing memorable dinners for the extensive group of friends that she and Jack had in Albuquerque. A beautiful and elegant woman, Victoria loved singing and playing the guitar. She was also a life-long tennis player. Jack’s eventual retirement allowed many long stays and adventures in Europe and Mexico where they spent many months every year.
The family is eternally grateful for the incredibly loving and devoted care that she received from her beloved companion,Veronica Saenz, and her caregivers — Olga Reyes, Manuela Dominguez, and Alma Orozco — who showered her with love and tenderness until the end. We are also very thankful for the support and kindness received from Nicole Whipple, RN and all the staff of Hospice of New Mexico.
Victoria leaves behind a family grateful for the joy and vibrancy she brought to their lives and especially the enormous influence she had on her beloved grandchildren, whom she adored. Mourning her is her loving husband of 68 years, Jack D. McCarthy, her daughters Leslie McCarthy Apodaca and Silvia McCarthy Ohler, her grandchildren Nicholas Ohler, Sophia Ohler, Jack Apodaca, and Daniella Apodaca, and her two sons-in-law, Stephen H. Ohler and Patrick V. Apodaca.
In view of the Ukrainian children currently experiencing exile, as she did as a child, please consider a donation in Victoria’s memory to World Central Kitchen