Angela “Gela” Narvaez Paz

Angela “Gela” Narvaez Paz was born of humble beginnings on Aug. 17, 1927 to Alejandro and Rosario Narvaez. She grew up in San Marcial and San Antonio, New Mexico, before moving to Las Cruces. Angela attended South Ward School in Las Cruces, and graduated from Las Cruces Union High School. Encouraged by the Dean of Women, she graduated from NM A&M (now NMSU) in 1949 with a degree in History and Social Work. She was the only one in her family to graduate from college, and broke many more barriers throughout her lifetime. She fell in love and married Las Cruces native George Paz, and together they forged a life of many accomplishments. Angela was the brains behind their marriage; while George was the idea guy, it was Angela that put all the pieces together for their successful adventures. They raised 12 children, seven boys and five girls, all of whom graduated from college and went on to become doctors, nurses, teachers, engineers and businessmen. At the time of her passing, she had 30 grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren (now 16). She was heavily involved in the Catholic community; Holy Cross Retreat House, Newman Center, and the Los Pastores del Valle de Mesilla. Angela was competitive and never played a game of cards to lose. Nobody ever left her home hungry. She had the resourceful ability to pull out a hearty meal and feed 20 people from an empty refrigerator. With 12 children, she could budget and manage the household using every trick in the book to make a buck stretch. When her kids were grown, Angela went back to work in vocational rehabilitation, taught ESL classes at the Dona Ana Branch, and job development for local agencies. She was also the first computerized typesetter at Bronson Printing Company, a family business. Many people around the community were helped by Angela’s encouragement for learning and skills development. (From her obituary, March 2015)

We were very close when I was growing up. She always seemed to remember everyone’s birthday and had great taste in gifts. She would watch us during the summers and take us swimming. The undersides of her arms were the smoothest, softest and wiggly-est I had ever felt and I loved messing with them. Which resulted in her nickname for me, Marga-rata. She is definitely a matriarch and I would love for her memory to continue.