Lea Ramirez Ward

April 20, 1933 – May 15, 2022

It is with a heavy heart that we announce our mother Lea passed quietly from this life on May 15, 2022 in Tucson, AZ at the age of 89. 

She was preceded in death by her loving husband Oscar G. Ward, Jr., her parents Gaudencio and Isabel Ramirez, and brother Nathaniel Ramirez. She is survived by her children Oscar G. Ward III (Jennifer) of Draper, UT and Anne E. Bullock (Vic) of Danville, CA; “Ti-Ters” Elvira Liebelt (Warren) and Hagar Benitez (Frank); granddaughters Baily, Ryley, Reagan and Brenyn Ward and Brittany Wasilefsky (Brian); greatgrandchildren, Johnny, Charlotte and Max Wasilefsky, and many nieces, nephews and cousins, in both the US and Mexico, all of whom will miss her dearly. 

She was one of four children and was born in Marfa, TX. Her family moved to AZ, living in Douglas and Ajo before settling in Tucson in 1946. 

She graduated from Tucson High School in 1952 where she made lifelong friends. After graduating in 1955 from St. Mary’s School of Nursing she married her husband Oscar, affectionately known as “Dien or Dino” in July of that same year. 

She worked at St. Mary’s, St. Joseph’s and Kino Hospitals as a surgical nurse and served on one of the first open-heart teams. Later she became a life long advocate of the people and traditions of AZ and served in a variety of organizations dedicated to the history, art and culture of Southwestern AZ and Northern Sonora. 

She was a founder of the Spanish Language Theatre Teatro Carmen, and numerous Hispanic arts and educational organizations. Just to mention a few: The Southern Arizona Division of the Arizona Historical Society, The Tucson Arts District Planning Committee, Tucson Pima Arts Council, Arizona Commission of the Arts (appointed by Governor Bruce Babbitt), The Tucson Community Foundation Funding Committee, Tucson Festival Society, Arizona Theatre Company, Arizona Media Arts Center, The University of Arizona Hispanic Alumni, Southwestern Mission Research Center, Los Decendientes Del Presidio de Tucson, and the Santa Cruz County Cowbelles, and Empire Ranch Foundation in Sonoita, AZ where she and Dien began their retired lives together in 1995. 

An ardent student of history, she was a founder of the popular Kino Mission Tours with which she conducted educational tours into Mexico. She combined her holy places with active participation in organizations devoted to the preservation and conservation of AZ wildlife, its habitants and environs.

She was a devoted Christian of the Presbyterian faith which she miraculously allotted equal time to in all of the communities she resided. She loved her family, the desert and its wildlife, all things southwestern with an emphasis on Spanish missions; traveling to Mexico and other worldly places with our Dad and dancing corridas with him. She loved speaking Spanish, taking road trips, hiking, birdwatching, touring new places, going to the theatre, and the Tucson Symphony. She loved listening to all music including classical, gospel, Mexican ballads and Los Mariachis, pos su puesto! She also loved her tequila Reposado, was an avid UofA Wildcats basketball fan and was a very feisty and gregarious woman, con muchas ganas, as they say in Spanish. 

A private urn committal service to be held at East Lawn Palms Cemetery, Tucson, Az. 

Memorial contributions may be made to Southwestern Mission Research Center (SMRC) 501(c)3 or Los Decendientes del Presidio de Tucson 501(c)3, both nonprofit educational organizations which have benefitted from her dedication.