Thomas Soto Rivera of Patagonia, AZ, departed this earthly plane on Thursday, February 25, 2021. He was the youngest son born to Jose and Concepcion Rivera on September 30, 1925 in Duquesne, Arizona. He is preceded in death by wife Virginia, son Thomas Jr., parents Jose and Concepcion, brothers Miguel, Jose, Benjamin, and Carlos; sisters Angela, Dolores, Mary Lou, Mercedes, Clara, Concepcion, and Carmen.
Thomas spent much of his young life living in Washington Camp and Duquesne area. He learned to be responsible for himself at a very young age and one of his favorite memories was working for the Green Cattle Company in San Rafael Valley when he was 15 years old. He was a ranch hand and a driver, responsible for driving their large cattle truck all over Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas to either pick up or deliver cattle. He was very proud of the fact that his employer trusted him at such a young age to have such an important responsibility.
Thomas married Virginia (Corrales) on March 16, 1956. They had three children: Selma, Thomas Jr., and Richard and created their home in Patagonia, AZ. They enjoyed a 52-year marriage until Virginia’s death in 2007.
Thomas lived a life on his terms. He loved his family, his friends, music, and cars.
Thomas was a talented musician. He was self-taught and played many instruments “by ear” as he didn’t read music. He played the accordion, guitar, banjo, organ, keyboard, mandolin, and piano. His greatest joy was playing music with family and friends for hours at a time. He was known for his love of cars and owned many throughout his long life. He continued to hold a driver’s license and was still driving up until the day of his death.
Thomas was a U.S. Army Veteran and was very proud of his service. He was stationed at Fort Lawton, WA and Japan before receiving an Honorable Discharge in 1950. Following his military service, Thomas worked as a Federal Government employee at Fort Huachuca, AZ, retiring after 29 years of service.
Within his immediate family, Thomas is survived by daughter, Selma (Jorge), son Richard, beloved grandchildren Antonio, Richard, Cristina, and Sienna, great-grandchildren Lillie (Richard), Catalina Lilyann (Antonio), Scarlett, and Noah (Cristina). He is also survived by many nieces and nephews and other extended family.
Thomas will be missed by his family, friends, and the community of Patagonia where he lived for the majority of his life. His passing also marks a milestone and closing of a chapter for the Rivera Family. Thomas was the last of the “Original Riveras” and his absence in the family will be keenly felt.
At this time, services for Thomas will be delayed until the risks presented by COVID-19 are diminished significantly to allow for a family gathering to celebrate his life.