Report by David Cortinas
Publisher of La Voz
Maria Manuela “Emma” Cortinas Tegland 87, of Yuma, Arizona, passed away surrounded by family Saturday, July 22, 2017 at her daughter and son in laws home Joe & Hilda Aleman where she lived since 2010. Her son in law Joe Aleman loved mom as if she was his own mother we sometimes felt she loved her Joe more than one of her own. Emma was battling various illnesses in her last few years of life before her death. Emma was born March 30, 1930 in Corpus Christi, TX. She is the only daughter of the late Guadalupe Casillas and a father whom she never met Gonzalo Gonzalez whom preceded in death along with her husband Miguel Pacheco Cortinas, and 3 sons, Victor Flores, Robert Cortinas, Johnny Cortinas and daughter Irma Cortinas Dobson.
In her memory, Emma leaves behind 10 children: Jesse Gonzalez, Lydia Cortinas Wood, Willie Cortinas, Yolanda Cortinas Manuel, Micaela Cortinas Gonzalez, Hilda Cortinas Aleman, Ruben Cortinas, David Cortinas, Diana Cortinas and Mike Cortinas with 104 grandchildren, 21 Great grandchildren and 7 great, great grandchildren. Not only did Emma raise her own children she helped raised 6 grandchildren, Chi Marie Witter since she was 1 week old, Emmy and brother Jimmy and Mary Lou her sister Joanna and brother Willie.
Emma grew up in Corpus Christi, Texas and when she was 12 years old she met her sweet heart Miguel “Mike” Cortinas and married at the young age of 13 years old, Emma attend school up to the 6th grade while her husband went to war in the Navy. After many years of traveling between Washington State and the State of Texas, the elder children encourage Mike and Emma as a Campesino family to stay for good in Walla Walla and in 1957 found a small home in Collage Place to live as they continued working the fields harvesting Walla Walla Sweet Onions for many Italian farmers though out the Walla Walla Valley.
Emma lived life to the fullest. She was a woman with many talents and a heart of gold. Her talents included cooking for the community at Cortinas Café which was located on the corner of 9th and Chestnut as Co-Owner with her husband. Dancing was her favorite pass time with the local Conjuntos, and listening to Tejano and Norteño music. She loved playing with dolls with her daughters and grandchildren making handmade dresses, she enjoyed beating the boys in a good game of marbles and always giving a good show to all the neighborhood friends how great she was playing Jacks, she would say; “keep an eye on the red ball, not the Jacks on the ground”.
Christmas time was her favorite Holiday when she would make homemade gifts for her children and family and decorating the home with Christmas lights and handmade Christmas Ornament’s. Christmas was not Christmas without her home made tamales and Cinnamon Hot Chocolate, today we know it as Champurando, but we never have for gotten Easter time when the entire family went to the Fort Walla Walla Park or Rooks Park for a good BBQ and Carne Asada and a family game of softball and we will always remember the Easter baskets that she herself would make and decorate, for the store bought baskets were not good enough for her children. Besides running her own restaurant in Walla Walla she then open her second restaurant in Milton- Freewater, Oregon with the help of daughters, sons and grandchildren as dishwashers, cooks, waiters and waitress, if you were old enough to eat, you were old enough to work at the restaurant. Children had plates named after them like the giant Ruben Tostada Special filled with ground beef, Refried beans and shredded lettuce stacked pile high, cheddar cheese, Sour Cream and topped with red tomatoes or dads “Mike’s Eggs and Bacon special”. Besides the 2 local restaurants Emma looked forward to the local county fair and together with all the family and friends for 12 years sold her favorite enchiladas, burritos, tacos and all of her favorite Mexican menu items to all those that visited her fair booth and many who ate her enchiladas raved about her enchiladas sauce and melted cheese, and at moms home when it came time to eat even with a large family there was always room for another person.
If the restaurant was not enough she found time to work as a teacher’s aide for the Walla Walla School District at Garrison Jr. High School offering her Spanish to migrant children and was a home room teacher for several of her sons and daughters class rooms in elementary and Jr. High School teaching how to make homemade tortillas and decorative Piñata’s. Since 1970 she organized the Cinco de Mayo Fiestas and Queen Pageants finding her own sponsors and many times donating some of her own funds only to make sure her ideas were carried out to be successful.
In her spare time she spent numerous hours with her children and grandchildren’s school sports and every summer she could hardly wait to attend the boys little league games and letting the umpires know of their mistakes and especially when it was against her very own, she loved baseball as her favorite sport, the New York Yankees was her team, but later chose the Mariners.
Emma a women of faith loved the Lord all her life, she attended the Salvation Army Services and guided her daughters to take part of the Tambourine presentations and encouraged all the family to attend church every Sunday, she also attended St Pat’s Catholic Church and the White Temple Baptist Church with her husband Mike, but in 1979 her son Robert introduced her and dad the LDS missionaries and was baptized in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Days Saints where she received many callings as a missionary, Relief Society President and various other callings, she loved the LDS Hymns and always encourage her family to be good to one another and to remember, God is Good. That very same year she was baptized numerous family members including, grandchildren, son and daughter in laws followed her example also receiving baptism along with her husband Mike. Emma enjoyed serving in the church and when it came time for me to attend a mission for the Church she deposited in my bank account every week from her check from work so I could have funds in the mission, she paid for the entire mission in the service of the Lord, Emma loved and respected her church leaders and had great respect for her Stake President David Hafen whom we will here from today and appreciated his guidance, council and friendship.
Life is like a book and mom put 87 chaperters in her book and there were good Chapters and bad chapters in her book, but at the last page where it says “The End” the reader’s final comment would be what a GREAT BOOK.
I know when mom stands before her maker he will reach out to her and tap her on her head and say “Well done thy good and faith servant” “Well done”. Mom left a Legacy of Love and Joy to all that she met even a tough love that we sometimes didn’t understand, but it was Love that she shared.
Before the Eulogy: Special Thank You’s
Oh behalf of the entire Cortinas Family a sincere Thank you for your presence here today, it is well appreciated and thank you for the flowers, love, hugs, kisses, and especially the prayers.
Joe, Hilda, Hailey and Eddie for taking care of mom and having her live with them for the last 7 years and the sacrifices they did in our moms behalf, also to all the Yuma nieces, nephews and families for being there for their grandmother. Especially Marylou, Angelica, Felicia and many more, even Leo would take a few minutes to look after his grandmother (I’m not sure if Leo after mom or if mom looked after Leo.)
Yuma Hospice for taking care of mom and their love in making her comfortable and looking after in her last days.