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Millie Pogna

1925 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
Millie Pogna Obituary
Pogna, Millie Carelli

"Some people come into our lives

and quickly go.

Others stay for a while and

Leave footprints

on our hearts

And we are never the same."


Millie Carelli Pogna lost her valiant battle with breast cancer surrounded by her loving family. Millie was a first-generation daughter of Italian Immigrants. Her parents, Gabriel and Angelina, came from Italy in the early 1900's by way of Ellis Island, and arrived in Colorado where her father worked on the railroads and later as a rancher. Millie was the second-youngest of 11 children (four died in infancy) living in a tiny log house in Gunnison, Colorado. She was ten years old when her mother Angelina died. Her two older sisters dropped out of school in the 8th grade to help their father with the younger kids, and her older brothers worked on the ranch before joining the military when they became of age, to service our country during WWII.

Millie was blessed with the opportunity to attend school through the twelfth grade, because of her station in the family. She walked four miles to a one-room schoolhouse across the freezing Tomichi Valley each day carrying a metal lunch bucket consisting of sliced onions on buttered bread. When she was in school, she contracted Scarlet Fever and school officials were forced to burn all books, papers, and pencils. She later stated that she was devastated about the loss of those precious resources. She said that the students in her school were children of struggling ranchers during the depression and always knew that "education for us was a privilege. We were so happy." Her passion for learning shaped her lifelong commitment to education.

She worked her way through college and earned a bachelor's degree in Business Administration at Western State College in Gunnison, Colorado, where she served in leaderships roles in student organizations, elected homecoming queen, and later was honored as a distinguished alumna. She had a beautiful singing voice and performed in Albuquerque little theatre, light opera, in church choirs, and even sang the National Anthem at numerous state Republican conventions. She was also an active member in the Tri-Sigma sorority. She was a self-taught seamstress, painter, and accomplished cook.

While her three daughters were in school, she served as president of the PTA. For nearly 40 years she was an elected member of the New Mexico State Board of Education/Public Education Commission. She remained active in her commitments and continued to participate, attending her final commission meeting in Santa Fe one week before her death. She remained actively involved in the Republican Party for over 50 years. Millie was a liaison to the Indian Advisory Board, New Mexico Insurance Authority, and the NM State Library Commission.

She received numerous commendations including; an award from the Freedom Foundation at Valley Forge in 1979; A National Commendation award for having served on the NM State Board from the Constitutional Coalition in 1999; "Outstanding Alumna" award from Western State College in 1985; elected Western Area Director for National Association of State Boards of Education; appointed by President Reagan to the Advisory Committee for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts from 1980 to 1988; appointed by Senate Pro Tem as Advisory to Legislative Public School Reform Committees in 1985; invitation from US Department of Education as a panelist for National Forum of Excellence in Education in 1982; elected President New Mexico Federation of Music Clubs; served on the Career Enrichment Center Advisory Board for 15 years; received Outstanding Service Award from NM Christian Parent Educator Association in 1997; received Eagle Forum "for dedication to God, Home, and Country" in 1997; received Home School Hero Award from NM CAPE "in recognition of significant and lasting contribution supporting, protecting and defending Home Education in New Mexico in 1999; active in music and theatre including Albuquerque Civic Light Opera, Music Theatre, Off Broadway West and Press Club Gridiron Singers.

Millie had a zest for life and was loved by all. Her childhood hardships contributed to her tenacious spirit. She was smart, driven, and possessed a love of learning. She is predeceased by her parents; her sisters, Teresa, Gilda, and Julia, and brothers, Jim, Frank and Geno, as well as several nieces and nephews. She leaves behind her loving husband of 67 years, Robert Pogna; daughters, Kathleen Anderson, Patricia Mazzone, Karin Johnson (Scott); three grandchildren, Taylor Mazzone (Erin), Grayson Mazzone, Alexandra Mazzone, and numerous nieces and nephews, friends, and her dog Cody.

A rosary will be held Friday, June 30, 2017 at 9:00 a.m. at French-Wyoming, followed by a funeral service at 10:00 a.m. Internment will take place at Santa Fe National Cemetery at a later date

In lieu of flowers, please contribute to the . Please visit our online guestbook for Millie at

Published in Albuquerque Journal on June 29, 2017
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