Cordy Valencia passed away Thursday, December 26, 2019, in Apache Junction, Arizona at the home of her son Jimmy Lee and daughter-in-law Diane. She moved to Arizona to be treated for a newly-diagnosed illness and cared for by her family, she was 89 years old.
She was preceded in death by her husband of 65 years, Bennie, and her brother Benny Samora.
Cordy was born May 22, 1930, to Max and Fedelina Samora. Max was a miner and spent most of his life in the mines away from his family. Cordy's mother, Fedelina, suffered from an illness (thought to be tuberculosis) and spent all of Cordy's young life bed bound and unable to fully care for her children. When Cordy was 8 years old she moved with her mother and three brothers (Rudy, Benny, and Leo) into her grandmother's home, Josiphita Martinez. When Cordy was 11 years old her mother passed away after her long-suffered illness and three years later her grandmother passed away. Her father, Max, was called back from the mines to care for his children to live in the grandmother's home. This was short-lived and Cordy was left with total care of her three brothers. At this time, she changed her name to Cordelia Martinez. She continued caring for her brothers and attending school in Ignacio, Colorado. In 1949, Cordelia Martinez, also known as, Cordy Samora, graduated from Ignacio High School. For the next two years, she finished raising her brothers and watched as each one grew to adulthood and moved on with their lives.
In early 1950, Cordy met a charming young man named Bennie Valencia and after a short courtship, they were married by the Justice of the Peace in Aztec, New Mexico on August 5, 1950. The young couple moved to Silverton, Colorado and lived in a boxcar provided by Bennie's job with the Denver-Rio Grande Railroad. This didn't last long for many reasons and the couple moved back to Ignacio. Bennie found odd jobs while Cordy stayed home taking care of their four boys (Alex born 1951, Jimmy Lee born 1952, Solomon born 1955, and Bennie 1957). Cordy also babysat several children throughout this course of time, including the Candelarias' and Alires'.
In the late 1950's, after having moved everything they owned and all those they loved back to Ignacio, they suffered a house fire that claimed total destruction. Bennie and Cordy found themselves mustering up all their love for their kids and each other, both being grateful that no one was hurt or lost in the fire, to rebuild their young life.
In 1960, Cordy and Bennie purchased the franchise rights to a Phillips 66 service station and in conjunction, Cordy used her amazing talents in utilizing New Mexican cuisine to operate a small family restaurant. Bennie and the boys ran the gas station while Cordy ran the restaurant and raised the boys. In 1968, Bennie jumped at the opportunity to own and operate a station in his own name and no more franchise fees, this would be called, "Bennie's Gas". He ran this from 1968 through 1979 as Cordy continued raising the boys and seeing them graduate from high school and going off to college, the United States Army, or other ventures.
In 1970, Cordy began working for Head Start in Ignacio. She loved this job working with children and continued this job into the mid-1980s. During this time Bennie decided to embark on a new adventure and bought The Ignacio Furniture Store. In Cordy's spare hours from her job at Head Start, she would assist Bennie at the store.
In the mid-1980's Bennie became restless and decided it was time to retire. Cordy was not as taken with the idea of giving up her home and job to travel the Western United States in a small camper. Bennie sold the furniture store and auctioned the contents and then with much sadness on Cordy's part, they began traveling. They went south and spent time throughout New Mexico from Truth or Consequences to Las Cruces. They traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada and they both agreed that was the place for them and they made it their home base. They came back for a short time to sell their house in Ignacio, and although Cordy was heartbroken at selling their "house on the hill" where she had spent so many wonderful years with family and friends, she was much happier knowing she was going back to live in Las Vegas than traveling in New Mexico.
On one of their travels to Colorado in the early 1990's, Bennie found a mini-mall in Fruita, Colorado that he became interested in, and looking to invest the money from his businesses over the years, Bennie convinced Cordy it was time to give up the camper lifestyle and they moved to Grand Junction. He bought the mini-mall and rented the spaces out with him and Cordy keeping the liquor store to run for themselves. Cordy and Bennie spent many long hours maintaining the property and being landlords.
We believe that Cordy finally convinced Bennie it was time to move back towards home. Bennie found a business that he thought was right up his alley and Bennie and Cordy bought AAA Mini Storage in Cortez, Colorado. Bennie then bought Cordy another beautiful home placed on their storage property. They ran the business full time until Bennie decided it was time to slow down, and at that time his son Jim moved to Cortez to help his parents. Bennie had a hand in the business until his death in April 2016.
Bennie and Cordy were married for 65 years and she was very proud of their enduring and love-filled marriage. The only thing as important to Cordy as her family was her deep devout Catholic faith. She gave her life to her faith and from Ignacio to Las Vegas, Cordy never let anything deter her from attending and helping in the church. She was a long-standing member of Catholic Daughters of America, served on many church boards and committees, taught CCD, was a Eucharistic minister and helped make the San Ignacio Fiesta what it is today. We have no idea, and we believe Cordy lost count too, just how many people she
Published in The Durango Herald on Dec. 30, 2019.