Mary Catherine Soens bid farewell to her loving family and friends on June 27, 2020 after living over a hundred years. She was born May 10, 1920 to Charles and Marie Burns in South Bend, Indiana, where she was raised and went to school.
After World War Two, she met Ernest Joseph Soens, the love of her life, on a blind date orchestrated by her Aunt Ollie. They married in 1946 and the marriage endured for over half a century. After working the last day on her job before the wedding, Mary plopped down on the couch and told her mother, “I am so glad I can relax and never work again!”
They lived on three and a half acres in a home that Ernest built and were active members of St. Therese, Little Flower Catholic Church. It came to be though, that the words “relax and never work” did not become part of Mary’s future, which she found out as she became mother to eleven children. She once remarked, “I love hanging diapers out because it is one thing I do not have to iron.”
As part of raising a large family, Mary provided three daily homemade meals from scratch where she relied heavily on their garden. She also managed to squeeze in numerous other homespun activities. Homemade whole wheat doughnuts and bread baking were favorites in her home and around the neighborhood. Finding time to make exquisite Christmas decorations, sewing pajamas and clothes, side by side teaching her daughters to sew, making braided rugs by hand, and cake decorating were some of her hobbies and interests. Canning fruits and vegetables provided nutritious meals in the winter, and one summer Mary and Ernest canned 300 quarts of peaches together.
The daughter of an immigrant from Ireland, Mary Catherine was a modest woman of humble roots who could stretch a dollar in multiple directions. Resilience and optimism were her character virtues that enabled her to encounter life’s obstacles. Passion and gusto for life was really what she was all about, constantly treasuring simplicities like a good cup of coffee, a delicious meal while talking to her many friends and relatives who loved grabbing onto her coattails for a ride because they found themselves so much at ease with her. Everyone loved her and she was the center of her family for decades.
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1968 was the year that Mary moved to New Mexico after Ernest retired, and they found the city of Roswell was a good environment to finish raising the family. There she found city life easier and she came to cherish the beautiful and unique traditions of New Mexico. They were members of Assumption Catholic Church. She was able to throw herself into volunteer work where one of her favorites was working in the soup kitchens.
After her husband died, Mary moved up to Rio Rancho, NM where she made new and lasting friendships and was involved in many activities. Over time, she required assistance from all of her children. With the support of Mary’s family and friends, daughter Leonie and husband Jerry welcomed Mary Catherine into their home where they provided loving care in her final years. Oh Mary Catherine, you will be missed. We are all so grateful we knew you in a special way.
Mary was predeceased by husband Ernest (1998), sons John Soens and Thomas Soens, daughter-in-law Lupe Soens, sons-in-law Tom Fischer and George Hentze, grandchildren Angela Michelle Fischer, Laura Marie Soens, LP Gantz, Kevin George Hentze and great-grandchild Olan Thomas Gomez. She is survived by her children Marie Fischer, Therese Soens, Gerard Soens, Pauline Gantz (Phil), Robert Cartwright, Martin Soens, Celine Hentze, Leonie Wellman (Jerry) and Frank Soens (Tanya), grandchildren John A. Soens, Brian Soens, Londi Soens (Thomas), Ben Fischer (April), Michelle Gomez (Aaron), Marie Heil (Aaron), Kelly Isler (Mark), Erin Gonzales (Robert), Blake Gantz, Tommy Hentze (Ange), Matt Soens (Nisha), Jonathan Soens, Luke Soens and Jake Soens, nineteen great grandchildren, brother-in-law Fred Roble, and numerous nieces and nephews.
Special thanks to Mary’s caregivers from Special Live-In Care, Patricia, Jennifer and Maryann. Thanks also to Presbyterian Hospice: Dawn, Jim, Bobbie Jean, Brenda and all the doctors , nurses and chaplains who helped in her care.
In the future, there will be a memorial celebration planned in Roswell where Mary’s family will bury her ashes with Ernest. Her funeral Mass will be at 1:30 Friday, July 10 at St. Thomas Aquinas in Rio Rancho, N.M.