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Josie Celia Arriza


Former Durango resident Josie Celia Arriza died Saturday, April 27, 2013, in Colorado Springs. She was 89.

Mrs. Arriza was born to Jose and Petronila Serna on Feb. 24, 1924, in Durango. She was the third of three children and the only one to survive infancy. Her father died when she was 18 months old, and her mother later married Marion DiFabrizio, who helped raise her.

After graduating from Durango High School in 1941, Mrs. Arriza became a nursing cadet during World War II. She trained at Mercy School of Nursing in Denver and had just completed her training when the war ended.

On Jan. 21, 1945, she married Pete Arriza in Durango. The couple had three children.

During her nursing career, Mrs. Arriza was school nurse at the Old Fort Lewis College Campus in Hesperus, a floor nurse at Mercy Hospital and, finally, the receptionist for Dr. Joseph E. Koplowitz.

“She is remembered for her compassionate response to anyone who struggled, her wonderfully wicked dry sense of humor and her genuine appreciation for others,” her family said.

In 2004, Mrs. Arriza moved to Colorado Springs to be near her youngest child.

“My mother was incredibly intuitive,” her daughter, PJ Arriza, said. “She would walk into a room and immediately sense anyone who was hurting. In moments, she would be at their side, making them feel better.”

After breaking her hip a few years ago, she found herself on the other side of the caregiver role.

“However, ‘once a nurse, always a nurse,’” her family said, “Josie continued to care for her caregivers. Many have been heard to say, ‘Whenever I am having a bad day, I go see Josie. One of her smiles can always make me feel so much better.’”

Mrs. Arriza was preceded in death by her husband of 44 years, Pete Arriza, in 1989.

She is survived by her sons Charles Arriza of Durango and Duane Arriza of Weeki Wachee, Fla.; daughter, PJ Arriza, of Colorado Springs; eight grandsons and one granddaughter; seven great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews.

A memorial Mass will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, May 6, 2013, at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 254 East Fifth Ave.

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