It is with heavy hearts that the family of 99-year-old Geronima (pronounced HER-ON-IMA) Cruz Montoya announced her passing on January, 2, 2015 at a hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexixo.
“She was surrounded by family and friends,” said Robert Montoya, Montoya’s eldest son. “We knew this day would come. We are happy to have had her in our lives for so long, but we know she is in a better place now.”
Ms. Montoya had spent the last few weeks in three different hospitals in Santa Fe and Albuquerque recovering from surgery to repair her broken left wrist and left hip, which she suffered in a fall at her home in Santa Fe, last month.
An award-winning artist, she was honored by the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA) with its Lifetime Achievement Award and was the group’s poster artist for the 2010 Indian Market.
A member of Oh’kay O’wingeh Pueblo, she was educated at the Santa Fe Indian School (SFIS). There she studied under Dorothy Dunn and found her inspiration to hone her craft as a painter. She headed the art program at SFIS from 1937 to 1961 and the St. Catherine’s School in Santa Fe. Hundreds of contemporary American Indian artists began their craft under her tutelage.
She has also served as a board member of the Wheelwright Museum, SWAIA, the Indian Cultural Museum and the All Indian Pueblo Council Museum.
She is survived by her sister, Ramoncita Sandoval; three sons, Robert, Paul and Eugene; a daughter-in-law, Desideria; a grandson, Michael; two granddaughters, Maria Morales and Povi; her husband George Yzaguirre; one great-granddaughter, Leilani McCook-Montoya; and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins from Sandia and Cochiti Pueblos.
She was preceded in death by her husband Juan; three sisters, Piedad Antoine, Adelaide Cruz and Reycita Jiron; and a granddaughter, Von Tenorio.
A Rosary was held at 7 p.m. on Sunday, January 4 at the family home in Oh’kay O’wingeh Pueblo and a wake followed. Mass was held Monday morning at St. John the Baptist Church (185 Popaye Ave.) with burial to follow at the graveyard at Oh’kay O’wingeh.