Refugio “Cuca” Salcedo Zaragoza


Cuca in Blue

 Refugio Salcedo Zaragoza

June 26, 1920 – March 21, 2015


Refugio Salcedo Zaragoza passed away on March 21, 2015 in Brawley, California.  Refugio, or “Cuca” to those who knew her, was born on June 26, 1920 in Carrillo Puerto, Nayarit, Mexico, the daughter of Marina Hernandez and Guillermo Salcedo.

At the age of 18, Cuca and her husband, Florentino V. Zaragoza, traveled from Nayarit, Mexico, to the Imperial Valley.  Cuca and Florentino settled in Holtville, where they raised their surviving twelve children together (one child, Vidal Zaragoza, died in infancy in Mexico).  Having experienced great hardships in her own childhood, Cuca was very frugal and capable of stretching resources to meet the needs of a growing family.  She was always able to make tasty meals, even when resources were limited.

Cuca always saw herself as a mother first, and she worked tirelessly at home to keep her family safe and healthy.  She was the disciplinarian at home, and worried and stressed over her children’s actions and decisions.  Recognizing the importance of hard work and an education, Cuca found her children jobs around the house and in the neighborhood from the time they were young, and made sure that the children went to school, achieved good grades, and stayed out of trouble.

Industrious and intelligent, Cuca taught herself to read and write English.  In order to assist her husband in his construction jobs, Cuca taught herself to drive so that she could pick up supplies and make deliveries, in addition to transporting her husband and children from place to place.

Family and friends were Cuca’s passion and delight.  Her witty and charming demeanor allowed her to instantly make friends wherever she went.  Cuca enjoyed visiting with old and new friends alike, but she especially loved spending time with her many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  While holding them close, Cuca would regale them with stories of her youth and impart her many, many years of wisdom and experience.

Aside from her family and friends, Cuca loved garage sales, bingo, slots, fishing, and listening to music, especially Pedro Infante.  She had a large collection of Pedro Infante movies, and later in life, Cuca could often be found singing along to one of his movies.   While she was able, Cuca devoted much of her time and energy to working outside, growing and tending to countless trees, flowers and cacti.  Her front yard was always full of beds of pansies and for many years she had a lovely cactus garden.

Cuca is survived by her sister, Maria Aspeitia, children Florentino S. (Christina) Zaragoza, Mercedes Z. Wheeler, Antonia (Robert) Marshall, Jose “Joe” (Estie) Zaragoza, Carlos (Alicia) Zaragoza, Mary Zaragoza (Robert) Eberle, Ignacio Zaragoza, Marina (Curtis) Lawson, Ruth Perry and William “Willie” (Debra) Zaragoza, and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  She is also lovingly remembered by many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.

Cuca was preceded in death by her husband, Florentino V. Zaragoza, and sons Vidal Zaragoza, Victor Zaragoza, and Manuel Zaragoza.

Rosary will be said Friday, March 27th at 6:30 p.m. at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, 560 Maple Avenue in Holtville.  A memorial Mass will be held on Saturday, March 28th at 9:00 a.m., also at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church.  Internment at Evergreen Cemetery in El Centro will immediately follow the Mass.

Sincere appreciation to Dayna Standen, Jeanie Williams, and Alice Piseno for the care and affection they showed Cuca in the last few years.  You were more than caregivers to Cuca, you became family, and Cuca loved you.  We will forever be grateful for your compassion and love for our mother.  Special thanks to Willie Zaragoza, who generously gave up so many of his weekends to take care of mother.