Marie “Celina” Garcia Toivanen passed away on April 25, 2022.
She was born in the small village of San Jose, New Mexico on July 2, 1939 to Frutoso and Magdalena (Gallegos) Garcia. Throughout childhood, Marie wanted to be a teacher. She would gather the kids in San Jose and teach them lessons in various subjects. Some of her peers remember this and have thanked her for those lessons.
Marie attended elementary school in San Jose and graduated from Las Vegas Robertson High School. She received her BA and MA degrees from New Mexico Highlands University. She did post-graduate work at UNM and NMSU. After graduating from Highlands, she moved to Grants, New Mexico to commence a teaching career that lasted 48 years. She taught at Sierra Vista, Mesa View, St. Teresa of Avila and Mt Taylor Schools. Her favorite subject to teach was reading. She was an excellent reading teacher, and she loved children. Many former students have fond memories of Ms. Toivanen. Marie was a member of Delta Kappa Gamma (Psi Chapter), life member of the National Education Association, American Federation of Teachers, International Reading Association, Grants Cibola County Association of Educational Retirees, and New Mexico Retired Teachers Assoc. Marie received the St. Jerome medal for Outstanding Catholic School Teacher in 2002. She was named to Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers by one of her former students. She was a Ham Radio Operator and was a member of the Upper Rio FM Society.
Marie was the keeper of the family memories, and she was considered the family historian. She had a great sense of humor, and would recall many of her childhood antics, making everybody laugh. Marie had an excellent command of the Spanish language and was often called upon to translate for many people and businesses in different situations. She was very proud of the fact that she alone raised her two children and made sure they both acquired a college education. She is survived by her son Dwayne Toivanen and wife Marlene of Grants, NM, and her daughter Aili Toivanen and partner Frank Jaramillo of Houston, TX. She is also survived by her beautiful grandchildren that she adored: Aleena Macumber, Jacob Macumber, Nathan Conway, Olivia Marie Toivanen and Ava Aili Toivanen. She is survived by her siblings: Joe D. Garcia, Jerry Garcia and wife Frances of Grants, sister-in-law Elia McComie of Washington, D. C., special nephew Marvin Bustos and partner Marcella; her special nieces: Ruth Hambright, Dorothy Otero and Debra Estrada as well as by many other wonderful nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents; brothers Jose F. Garcia, Jimmy Garcia and Ray Garcia; sister Bella Garcia; sisters-in-law Francis Garcia, Vera Garcia and Isabel Garcia; and nieces Donna Garcia and Sally Montoya. A Rosary Service will be held Tuesday, May 3, 2022 at 7:00 PM at St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church. Funeral Mass will be held on Wednesday, May 4, 2022 at 10:00 AM followed by interment at Grants Memorial Park at Noon. A reception will be held at the Knights of Columbus following the internment.
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