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Remembering Carmen Canchola

Carmen F. Canchola: The world has lost an angel, a gentle loving soul whose life was devoted to her children, her beloved husband, and the people of Tucson and Nogales, Arizona. Born July 16, 1931, in Villa Morelos, Mexico. Carmen Flores was a jeweler's apprentice in Morelia, Mexico, when she met her husband, Jose Canchola. Jose once said of Carmen that she "... has kept me together. I owe my success to her."

Their 56 years of married life were filled with joys and challenges, but they always had each other, separated only by his death in January 2008. She is now happily reunited with Jose in heaven. Carmen died June 29, 2014, at home with her family by her side. She leaves behind her children Anthony, Roberto (Sandra), Richard (Andrea), Carmen (David), Roger (Raquel), and Mary Ellen (Steve) along with 11 grandchildren, two great grandchildren and countless friends and extended family members.

Carmen often sat in the shadow of her well-known and beloved husband, Jose, but she was the quiet force that made his life's work possible, especially as a McDonald's owner/operator in Nogales and Tucson. But Carmen was an active member of her community in her own right, generous with both her time and wealth. She was a founding member of the Ronald McDonald House board and served on numerous other boards, including La Frontera Mental Health Center, Tucson/Mexico Sister Cities, and the UA Foundation, where she was sensitive to the importance of funding scholarship programs. At an early age she was forced to leave school to work when her family suffered financial setbacks. As a young mother, she returned to finish her education, wanting to set an example for her children, all six of whom are college graduates.

Whether it was visiting children at St. Andrew's Clinic or creating and supporting their Nogales McDonald's annual Christmas party for needy children from the colonias in Nogales, Sonora, Carmen always gave generously of her time. Among the honors she most cherished were being identified as a person of influence in the Latino community by the Citizen in its "Who Runs Tucson" series, Woman of the Year by the Hispanic Professional Action Committee, a "Remarkable Mom" by Tu Nidito, and the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Business Woman of the Year.

Carmen's family is grateful to the loving staff at Casa de la Luz Hospice for the extraordinary care they provided in her last months on earth.

During her tenure as First Lady of Nogales, she rallied merchants to support programs, including the Silver Foxes program, which offered discounts to seniors, and created and chaired the annual Thanksgiving Program, where she worked with local merchants to create holiday gift baskets with food staples and treats for need seniors.

Visitation will be held Tuesday, July 8, 2014 at Carrillo's Tucson Mortuary from 5:00 pm - 9:00 pm, with a Rosary at 7:00 pm. Mass will be offered at 9:00 a.m. at St. Augustine Cathedral. Interment to follow at Holy Hope Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, her family requests donations be made in Carmen's memory to Casa de la Luz Hospice (www.casafoundation.org). Family and friends may express their condolences by visiting www.carrillostucsonmortuary.com.

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