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Atencio family matriarch Frances Torres Atencio was born to eternal life on Oct. 25, 2007. She passed away peacefully surrounded by friends and family as her husband Luis held her hand. She was born on Feb. 7, 1924, in Miami, Ariz., to Rafael and Lydia Torres. In 1944, she graduated from Miami High School. She met the love of her life, Luis L. Atencio, when he was visiting his brother who was working in the mines in Arizona. They were married in 1946 and settled in Espaola, where they lived in the house where Luis was born.
They founded El Paragua Restaurant in 1966 in the former Atencio family tack rooms and sheds. Using her recipes, El Paragua became famous, and her cooking won acclaim nationally with articles featured in many publications, including Bon Appetit, Gourmet and The New York Times. She personally supervised the kitchen with the help of all her children and loyal staff. Until recently she would direct the food preparation from her home when she couldn't be there herself. She enjoyed gardening and won first-place ribbons at the New Mexico State Fair for her beautiful flowers. Her hobbies also included quilting, sewing and playing the piano. She was active in the Santa Cruz de la Caada Catholic Church and in living her faith.
Mrs. Atencio was predeceased by her parents, her mother-in-law Noberta Atencio, brothers Rafael Torres Jr. and Edward Torres, her sister Evelyn Torres, infant daughter Anna Marie Atencio and a granddaughter Anna Marie Atencio.
She is survived by her beloved husband of 61 years and business partner, Luis, and children Lorenzo Atencio, Pedro Atencio and Diane, Dorothy Maestas, Olga Garcia and Eugene, Maria F. Atencio, Chris Atencio and Marcella, Jose Atencio and Alicia, Angela Sanchez and James and Ralph Atencio and Julie, her large family in both California and Arizona; Andres Torres and Gloria, Apolinar Torres and Mary, David Bouvet and Annie, and Clara Pedroza, Theresa Bojorquez and Hector, numerous nieces and nephews, many other relatives, staff members and her caretakers, Adelina and Salud. Recitation of the Rosary will be held on Saturday, October 27, 2007 at 6:00 p.m. in the Chapel at Block-Salazar Mortuary, and also at 3 p.m. Sunday at Iglesia de Santa Cruz de la Caada. The Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10 a.m. Monday at the same church. Serving as the main celebrant will be Father Ron Carrillo. Interment will follow at Holy Cross Cemetery.
Serving as pallbearers will be Jeff Atencio, Andrew Atencio, Mario Atencio, Javier Atencio, Miguel Atencio, Joey Atencio, Rafael A. Atencio, Gabriel Atencio and Lorenzo Torres. Honorary pallbearers are Helen Pea, Ramona Chavez, Lei'Ohu Ryder, Alicia R. Atencio, Renee Maestas, Eliza Trujillo, Leticia Atencio, Monica Sanchez, Ursula Atencio, Teresa Sanchez, Franchesca Atencio, Jody Montoya, James Sanchez, Eugene Garcia, Larry Torres and Christopher Atencio.
Frances was a loving, caring and generous person and will be deeply missed.
Funeral services provided by the Rivera Family of Block-Salazar Mortuary, Espaola, N.M. 505-753-2288, 800-443-4854 and www.blocksalazarmortuary.com.