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Home General Mary Valdes, a graceful swan September 21, 1914 ? August 26, 2004

Mary Valdes, a graceful swan September 21, 1914 ? August 26, 2004

Mary Elvira Valdes, 90, born to Manuel and Elaine Carrillo, grew up in Belize City. Her mother introduced her to classical ballet and the arts, an introduction that fueled the pursuit of lessons abroad, in not only classical ballet, but also in tap and jazz.

Mrs. Valdes, wife of Nacho Valdez, led an extraordinary life that seems to have been propelled by a unique sense of creativity and aesthetics. Her children describe their childhood as one that was built on a harmonious balance of Catholicism, tradition, creativity and love.

They recall the little things their mother did, like helping them with their homework, that would normally seem inconsequential, but these moments proved to be special, showing the depth of her love and devotion for them.

She gave her children timeless advice, ?Look for the good in people and always try to bring out their best,? said her son, John.

Her family recalls their seasonal celebrations, each having a distinct creative flare, and the performances that were arranged as a family endeavor. Mrs. Valdes took charge of the costume designs and choreography; Mr. Valdes did the sets, and the rest of the Valdes family managed the other theatrical features. Needless to say, these performances overflowed with brilliance.

In the 1940s and 1950s, Mrs. Valdes assisted in the choreography of shows and pageants performed at the Holy Redeemer Parish Hall. She also started a dance program at St. Catherine Elementary, at the invitation of the Sisters of Mercy.

In 1963, Mrs. Valdes established a school of classical ballet, at which she instructed for over 30 years. Her many students are reputed to have amassed ?technique, self-awareness, poise, confidence, a capacity for cooperation, perseverance and ultimately courage.?

In the eyes of Belizeans, she had an artistic creativity that was unprecedented and her contributions to the artistic movement have won her national acknowledgement. She was the first Belizean to be awarded with the Outstanding Artist Award, and in 2003, was awarded the Distinguished Artist Award.

Mary Valdes exemplified a woman who devoted her life to that which meant the most to her – family, religion, and the arts.

She is survived by her children: Mario, Johnny, Jackie, Billy, Mary Beth Maestre, Butch, Ted, and Carlos; daughters-in-law: Wanda and Lizzette Valdes; son-in-law: Steve Maestre; grandchildren and a host of other relatives and friends.

(Compiled from her Eulogy, read by her granddaughter, Ruth Jaramillo, and a Tribute, read by Mrs. Mamie Martinez, at her Mass of Thanksgiving on Saturday, August 28, 2004.)

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