OBITUARY: Graciela I. Juarez

Juarez, Graciela I., 93, retired education paraprofessional, passed away peacefully on May 25, 2019. Graciela was born on Christmas day in 1925 in Tampico, Mexico, the oldest of eight children to parents Francisco and Dominga (de la Tejera) Castro. Her family moved to Wichita, KS in 1927 shortly before her second birthday. Graciela met her beloved husband-to-be, Ramiro (Ray) B. Juarez, at the Mexican American softball tournament in Newton, KS in July 1946 and they were married in February 1947. Graciela and Ray emphasized the importance of education and the opportunities created by education in raising their five children. All of their children subsequently graduated from college before embarking on their own careers and starting their families. Graciela and Ray also shared a common love of sports and games that they passed on to their children. Through the years, Graciela hosted and participated in hundreds of highly spirited board games and backyard croquet matches with her children and grandchildren during numerous family gatherings at the Juarez home. Graciela enjoyed sports her entire life, and followed her favorite teams and stars in baseball, basketball, tennis, and later in life, golf. By the time three of her children graduated from the University of Kansas, she was an avid lifetime Jayhawk basketball fan. The KU Athletic Department acknowledged her years of devotion as an ardent fan with two courtesy tickets to a KU basketball game at Allen Fieldhouse in 2007, which was to become the Jayhawks NCAA Championship season. After her husband’s untimely death from illness in 1978, Graciela truly found her passion working as an Instructional Paraprofessional at the Park site of the Horace Mann Elementary Magnet Complex for 13 years. She performed classroom instructional and administrative duties and frequently served as a Spanish translator for teachers in the classroom and during parent conferences and visits to the home. She also did free tutoring of students in the summer and took students to baseball games, fishing trips, and picnics at local parks. Her notable achievement was to establish and lead the successful Park/Horace Mann Mexican Folklorico Dancers group. Each school year she taught traditional Mexican dances to a select group of boys and girls. She chose a different group of students each year, made their dance costumes, and drove the students to perform at local elementary schools, nursing homes, the Cinco de Mayo celebration, and the Wichita River Festival. Her success in leading the Folklorico Dancers helped her students understand and preserve Hispanic culture and encouraged a sense of self-esteem and accomplishment. The Wichita Board of Education presented her with its Good Apple Award in 1990 for her dedicated contributions as a Paraprofessional at the Park/Horace Mann complex. In 1992, she was recognized with an Excellence in Public Service Award by the DeVore Foundation for her achievements as a Paraprofessional and for her volunteer contributions to numerous Wichita community groups. Graciela was a truly loving, caring, self-less wife, mother, sister, and grandmother who will be missed by her loving family and numerous friends. She genuinely touched the lives of many individuals. She was preceded in death by her husband Ray; brothers, Luis Castro, Bernie Castro, Victor Castro; sister, Gloria Garcia; and son in-law, Greg Flack; and is survived by loving sons, Richard (Barbara) Juarez, Wichita, KS and Roderick (Donna) Juarez, Albuquerque, NM; daughters, Rosario (Steve) DelCastillo, Littleton, CO, Roxanne (Arlyn) Julian, Eagan MN, and Robin (Kelly) Linder, Wichita, KS; brother, Oscar (Martha) Castro, Wichita, KS; sisters, Yolanda Garcia, Andover, KS and Blanche (Otis) Covington, Frisco, TX; sister in-law Nanci Castro, Harrisville, RI; grandsons, Roman (Brenda) Juarez, Zachary Juarez, Santino (Jessica) DelCastillo, Kouri (Jenna) Linder, Vinnie Linder, and Zane Linder; granddaughters, Tasha (Zak) DelCastillo-Allen, Victoria Julian, Cassandra (Wesley) Renard, Briana (Taylor) Roth, and Remy Juarez; and 9 great-grandchildren. Vigil and Rosary will be held at 7:00 pm, Thursday, May 30, at Downing & Lahey East Mortuary, 6555 E. Central. Mass of Christian Burial followed by reception will be held at 10:00 am Friday, May 31 at Church of the Magdalen, 12626 E. 21st St N. In memory of Graciela’s peaceful passing, the family is grateful for donations to her memorial fund with Harry Hynes Memorial Hospice, 313 S. Market, Wichita, KS 67202. Share tributes on-line at:

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