Mary Urioste knows eastern New Mexico like the back of her hand. The 83-year old woman has lived in the Clovis-Portales area for her entire life, and now has more than 70
great-grand children and grandchildren, most of whom live in Clovis or Portales as well.
Urioste also babysat regularly for over 50 years. Though her husband of over six decades, Joe Urioste, died in 2009, she still has plenty of family who make sure they stop and see her daily.
Born Mary Chavez, she was happy to sit down and reminisce a bit on her life.
Where were you born? I was born in Fort Sumner. My mother had lots of children, and I actually was raised by some friends of my parents. My mother was Maggie Allen and my father was Doroteo Chavez, and my parents that raised me were Teodoro and Juanita Gonzalez.
What do you remember about growing up in Clovis? I loved to sew. I made my first dress when I was 13 years old. I used to see my brothers and sisters all the time, but I felt a little different because I lived away from them. It was a different time then, and things like that were kind of common. I worked in the cottonfields, and I picked beans and onions too.
How did you meet your husband Joe Urioste? We met at a dance when I was 15. Joe was quite a character; he was the life of the party. He would tell jokes and pull tricks on everyone. We used to go to the movies at the old Mesa Theater, right there in Clovis. He passed on Aug. 29, 2009. I remember I used to tell my parents I was going to choir practice, and then I’d go spend time with Joe. He laid carpet most of his life. Him and his brother Louis started the Urioste Brothers Carpet Service.
When did you start your extended family? We got married in 1947. We had eight children, Leroy, Arthur, Viola, Ralph, Mary Esther, Patsy, Juanita, and Paul. We lived in Clovis until 1955, and then we moved to Portales. Now I’m 83 years old, and I have 28 grandkids, 43 great-grandkids, and one great-great grandkid with two more on the way. I didn’t know I was going to live this long. I also raised one of my grandsons, Anthony Salaz.
Does your family stop by and see you a lot? Oh, all the time. Every day. At any given time there will be grandkids, one of my kids, a niece or someone walking through the door just to say hi and sit and talk with me. During holidays, I always think we will run out of food, because there is usually over fifty friends and family here. But we never do, and everyone always gets fed. Because so many of the people in our family have their own families to celebrate with, we do Christmas Eve here. We’re a really close family, and there’s lots of love.
— compiled by CMI staff writer Eric Norwood Jr.