Celina Margarita Cabeza de Baca Strand, 91, passed away on Aug. 28, 2012 in Rio Rancho. She was born in Roswell on June 17, 1921 to Luis Maria Cabeza de Baca and Florita Grzelachowski Cabeza de Baca.
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When Celina was four, her mother died, leaving four children, Celina, Oma (Gallegos), Luis and Carlos. Aunts and other close family members helped to raise them until their father and grandfather, Graciano C. de Baca, moved to the ranch near Newkirk, N.M., where they took care of them for five years. Their father, Luis married Antonia Garcia and had a son named Robert who preceded Celina in death. They then moved the family to Newkirk where he ran a gas station/general store on Route 66.
Celina attended school in Santa Rosa and lived one year with her aunt, Fabiola C. de Baca Gilbert, in Santa Fe, where she finished high school. Celina then attended New Mexico A&M in Las Cruces for three years. There she married Lars O. Strand who was serving in the U.S. Army. They lived in New Mexico and Texas.
Celina gave birth to four children, Anna Marie Strand Garbarino Miller, Margaret Angela Strand, Florentina Elizabeth Strand Garcia Pacheco, and Michael Anthony Strand. Celina is survived by one sister, two brothers, four children, ten grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.
Celina worked for New Mexico A&M Extension Service, teaching groups of women home economics in small towns in Guadalupe County. She also worked at the state capital for the Oil Conservation Service and New Mexico School Lunch Program throughout the state. She then went to the University of New Mexico and graduated with a degree in home economics. She taught at Jemez Springs High School for many years. Then she moved to Las Vegas and worked at the New Mexico State Hospital where she trained patients to re-enter life after leaving the hospital. She retired and years later moved to Rio Rancho and lived with her daughter Tina.
A lifelong Catholic, Celina was very close to the Lord and her family. She was a very strong person who worked her way through the problems of life. She waited all her life to see her mother and father again in heaven. Services were held at the St. John Vianney Mission Church in Rio Rancho with interment next to her father at the Newkirk Cemetery in Guadalupe County, N.M.
Published in Las Vegas Optic on Sept. 24, 2012