Mary C. Torres
If the quality of a person’s life is reflected by the love they gave, and the love they received, the life of Mary C. Torres shines as brightly as the stars that illuminate the heavens.
Mary was the mother of four children – Lawrence Torres Jr. (Dianna), Richard (Dickie) Torres, Randy Torres (Kay) and Arlene Torres-Warden – and the reigning matriarch of a prominent Socorro business family. She died in the early morning hours of Friday, April 30, with family praying at her bedside. Her legacy includes 13 grandchildren, 19 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.
She was the undisputed cornerstone for an extended global family that relied on her for love and counsel. Her children granted her wish to spend her final years in the home she had lived in for almost 70 years, in fulfilling a promise made to their father, Lawrence Torres Sr., who died in 2015. The couple were married for 65 years.
Theirs was a story of love and commitment, hard work and shared values as together they faced the trials and tribulations of everyday life, based on a firm foundation of faith and the belief that family always came first. They practiced their Catholic faith by living it, no matter what obstacles crossed their path.
Mary was born September 15, 1927 (officially named: Maria Ignacia Angelina Cordova y-Lopez), to Don Jose Dolores and Dona Josefita Lopez Cordova in Jarales, New Mexico, a small farming community in Valencia County, west of the Rio Grande. As the youngest of 13 children, 11 of whom reached adulthood, she was called “Baby,” not only by her siblings, but by nieces and nephews, many older than Mary herself. Mary recalled life in Jarales as one of hard work laced with huge family gatherings and lots of shared laughter and tears.
A special place was an old livestock barn, which Mary thought of as her own playhouse, where she could escape the incessant chatter of her elders to dream the dreams of little girls. Sometimes her father would give her an egg that she would eagerly run to the local mercantile and trade it for a piece of candy.
She would watch her father make his daily trips to the fields where he grew chile, corn, beans and other crops, along with the livestock necessary to sustain his large family. Her mother was always cooking, she remembered; even in later years, her mom would sit in a chair for hours cleaning pinto beans, sometimes as many as 50 pounds at a time.
It was that Cordova work ethic that formed her own view of life, marriage and family, and which she passed on to her own children and the generations that followed, along with an unshakable faith that was to shoulder her during the tough times.
Mary was a child of the Depression; and, like others of that era, learned lessons of thrift and doing without. Kids made their own fun in those days, and Mary never lacked for opportunities to find joy in simple things. She also lived through four years of a world war and the halcyon days that followed the end of hostilities in 1945.
Those were heady times, as thousands of young American soldiers returned home, secure in a lasting peace and dreams fueled with renewed hopes for their futures.
Among those returning soldiers was Lawrence Torres. Lawrence and Mary met one summer evening at a fiesta dance in Belen, when the former soldier from Socorro met the dark-haired señorita with the sparkling eyes. Mutually smitten, the two began to keep company under the watchful eyes of Mary’s older sisters, not to mention her strict parents. They dated for two years, often double-dating with Ruth (Cordova) and Sosimo Padilla. Although Ruth was Mary’s niece, the two were raised together and were best friends.
Lawrence and Mary were married on October 7, 1950, at San Miguel Church in Socorro. They set up house in a small apartment on School of Mines Road. Mary laughed recalling the first time she made pancakes for her new husband. Lawrence complained that the pancakes were not like those made by his mom. Mary responded by flinging the inferior flapjacks at her husband.
In time Mary became an excellent cook, turning out incomparable beans, unrivaled red chile and tortillas. No Good Friday would be complete without her torta, quelites, chile, beans, salmon patties and sopa. For Christmas, her family looked forward to carne enchiladas, tamales, chile rellenos, and biscochitos. No one cooked like Mom!
She also starched and ironed Lawrence’s white Chevron work shirts, washed hundreds and hundreds of diapers by hand, prepared three meals a day (Lawrence didn’t like leftovers), after-school snacks and birthday cakes. She raised her children with a firm but loving hand. Like a mother hen, she worried and clucked over her large brood, counseling and scolding as needed, right up to the day she died.
Mary balanced burgeoning health issues with daily walks around the New Mexico Tech campus and its neighborhoods, which always renewed her spirits. She had been diagnosed with diabetes over 40 years ago, which she handled with stoicism and extraordinary self-discipline. Mary also suffered debilitating back pain after several surgeries, but never let any of these setbacks dim her indomitable spirit.
In her final years, she cherished the companionship and assistance of her caregiver Maria Ramos Diaz, and delighted in phone calls from longtime friends and family visits, always the highlight of her day. Not a single night went by without finding her in bed, a rosary in her hand. If there is an express flight to heaven, Mary C. Torres already had her ticket punched.
Pallbearers will be: Veronica Padilla Prager, Phyllis Padilla Owens, Maria Ramos Diaz, Ramona Tafoya, Scott Torres, Randy Torres, Jr. Honorary Pallbearers: Gabe Saucedo Jr., Arthur D. Cordova Jr.
Services are scheduled for Friday, May, 14 at San Miguel Church in Socorro with a rosary at 9:30 and mass at 10:00am. Please be aware that seating inside the church will be limited due to COVID restrictions. Internment to be at a later date at the Santa Fe National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers please make a donations to San Miguel Church and the University of New Mexico Cancer Center.at Ways to Give | UNM Health System | Albuquerque, New Mexico.
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