Emma Padilla Baca peacefully departed this life on August 8, 2018 in the company of her immediate family. Emma was loved and cherished by all of her family and friends during her long and full life of 91 years.
Emma was born to her parents Nocario and Adela Padilla on June 12, 1927 in Trementina, New Mexico. She is survived by her daughter Tina and husband Antonio Sanchez, and son Elmo and wife Caterina Giuffrida. Emma was blessed with four grandchildren including Anna Marie Cervantes, Danielle Dominguez and husband Ian, Elena Sanchez and husband Ajay, Jon Otero and wife Cassie. Emma enjoyed eight great grandchildren, including Kyle, Tyler, Madison, Stephen Antonio, Tristan, Taiyo, Francesca and Joaquin and one great-granddaughter Kora.
She was preceded in death by her beloved husband Manuel A. Baca, her parents, Nocario and Adela, brothers Jose Melecio Padilla, Perfecto Padilla, and Miguel Padilla. Emma is also survived by her sisters Lugarda Jaramillo and husband Adreien, and Virginia Martinez, brothers Ralph Padilla and wife Ruth, Zoilo Padilla and wife Karen, and Simon Padilla.
Her surviving sisters in-law include Vita Padilla, Mary Lewis, and Celia Aurora Hawk.
Emma grew up in Trementina on the family ranch in eastern San Miguel County near Conchas Lake. The family raised cattle and sheep and tended large gardens, and Emma fondly recalled growing up with her brothers and sisters and assisting her parents with the many chores of the ranch.
Emma was a good student in elementary school and later attended Menaul High School in Albuquerque, where she graduated in 1946. She played basketball and volleyball at Menaul High, and stood out for her beauty.
She returned to Las Vegas, NM to attend New Mexico Highlands University, where she met her husband Manuel. Manuel was a World War II veteran studying to become an educator. The couple married in 1947, and were blessed with their daughter Tina in August 1948. Their son Elmo was born in November 1953.
Manuel and Emma made their first home in Las Vegas on Tilden Street. The neighborhood was filled with young families, and Emma enjoyed her role as a wife and homemaker, hosting birthday parties, family celebrations, and tending to her garden. Emma’s love of gardening was a lifelong passion, and she had the “green thumb” that enabled her to grow just about anything, including her favorite roses, peonies, daisies and even fussy columbines.
Manuel and Emma were active in Catholic, civic and veterans groups including the Elk’s Club, and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). Emma volunteered as a Cub Scouts Den mother, and later joined the Women’s Club of Las Vegas, serving as District II President in 2003. Emma was a lifelong member of the Catholic Daughters Association. Emma and Manuel were lifelong members of Immaculate Conception Church in Las Vegas until they moved to Albuquerque in 2009.
As their children grew, Emma and Manuel built a new home on Catalina Court in 1965 in Las Vegas, where they lived for nearly fifty years. The Bacas enjoyed entertaining with family backyard barbecues. Emma’s talent as a homemaker grew as well, and her Christmas pastries of empanaditas, pastelitos, and biscochitos were famous, but her delicious “cranberry fluff” salad was the show stopper that has become a family tradition.
After her children were in school, Emma began a career as a retail sales clerk at Montgomery Ward and J.C. Penney stores in Las Vegas, where she interacted with the general public and community. Many Las Vegans remember her professionalism, courtesy and especially her fine grooming, every hair in place and fingernails always perfectly polished. Emma’s skin had a radiant glow, perhaps a gift from the avocados she always savored.
Emma and Manuel and the family enjoyed traveling, sharing family vacations with relatives in Mexico, California, Yellowstone, and Colorado, and later after retirement,
the couple traveled to Hawaii, Mexico, Alaska, Spain and Italy. Emma enjoyed sightseeing and taking pictures, leaving behind hundreds of memories.
Emma Baca enjoyed life to its fullest, was known to have a sharp sense of humor, and an excellent memory. In many ways she personified the rose blossom that she loved so well, the beauty emerging slowly at first and eventually engulfing the admirer with glorious colors and fragrance, fading with shades of nostalgia and deep sentiment.
Emma and her family are grateful for the many family members and friends who have expressed their sorrow and loss. Her family is indebted to the many caring people who assisted in her care during her long illness. Emma retained her grace and elegance, beauty and laughter until her final days, and she will live in our hearts forever.
A Rosary will be recited Thursday, August 16, 2018, 9:30 a.m., and Mass will be celebrated at 10:00 a.m., both at Prince of Peace Catholic Community, 12500 Carmel Ave. NE. Interment will follow at 2:15 p.m. at Santa Fe National Cemetery.