Araminda Bernadette Atencio

Atencio Enlarge photo


Araminda Bernadette Atencio died of heart failure May 21, 2011, at her home in Los Banos, Calif. She was 73.

Known as “Ary,” she was born to Bernardita and Leonides Dan Atencio on May 12, 1938, in Ignacio.

Ms. Atencio and her younger siblings, Cid and Don, were raised by their aunt, Genevieve Atencio Roman, in Durango after their mother’s sudden death when Ms. Atencio was 6. Mrs. Roman brought them up at 472 Main St., across from the train depot, where she owned Anita’s Bar and Cafe. She and the children lived upstairs in what used to be hotel rooms.

An avid reader from a young age, Ms. Atencio, who attended schools in Durango but graduated from high school in California, claimed to have read nearly every book in the Durango Public Library.

Her proudest accomplishment, her family said, was graduating cum laude in 1976 from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst with a bachelor’s degree in a self-constructed major of business, Spanish, and Latin American studies.

Ms. Atencio enjoyed immerse herself in as many subjects as possible including art, history and politics. One of the highlights of her time at UMass was her junior year, which she spent abroad at the University of Mexico.

While Ms. Atencio had lived in different parts of the country, including two years in Kauai, Hawaii, she had an inextinguishable affinity for San Francisco, her family said. Some of her happiest years as a young adult were spent sharing an apartment on Jackson and Hyde streets with her brother and sister.

“A wonderful hostess who loved to dance and entertain frequently, Ary will be remembered for being an excellent cook and lively conversationalist who could be counted on for weighing in on nearly any subject under the sun,” her family said.

Ms. Atencio was a lifelong lover of music, theater, and the arts. While she experimented with many media, she is best remembered as an avid photographer. During her hours in the darkroom, she produced still-life prints of flowers and portraits of children.

In the last years of her life Ms. Atencio moved from the San Francisco Bay area to Los Banos. Though she never married, she acted as a maternal figure toward many of her family members.

“Her absence will be greatly felt by those who had the good fortune to be touched by her enormous heart and generous spirit,” her family said.

Ms. Atencio is survived by her sister Cidelia “Cid” Atencio Newman of Sequim, Wash.; brothers Eliot Don Atencio of Simsbury, Conn., and Lewis Bernardo Atencio; and a large extended family in Colorado, New Mexico, and California.

Cremation has occurred. A private celebration of life will be held at a later date.