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N.M. Author's Wife Was a Born Counselor, Teacher

By Lloyd Jojola
Journal Staff Writer
      When talking about Patricia Anaya, her husband, Rudolfo Anaya, returns to the words “kind” or “kindness.”
       “Pat was a very kind person,” the noted New Mexican author said. “Going into counseling was natural for her because she would listen to people and help them work through their problems.”
       Before retiring in the late 1980s, Patricia Anaya was a counselor at Cibola High School in Albuquerque.
       She had also taught literature at the city's Manzano and Albuquerque high schools.
       “She loved teaching. She loved the students. I never heard her complain,” said Rudolfo Anaya, himself a former public schools teacher. “And just from, you know ... shop talk, the students loved her. When she was at Albuquerque High, I met a few of the students when I'd go by and pick her up.
       “They hung out in her room. They just loved her. She was a wonderful teacher.”
       Services were held last week for Patricia Anaya, 85, a city resident who died Jan. 5.
       Patricia Anaya was a writer herself, publishing a book of short stories and having finished a novel.
       She also is remembered for her support of other writers, such as through her involvement with the Rio Grande Writers Association.
       She came to know many of the writers in the literary movement that her husband was part of.
       “In fact, I often said she knew more about Chicano and Chicana literature than most people, because not only did she meet all the old-guard writers, she read their work,” Rudolfo Anaya said. “She was intimately acquainted with their work. She was interested and shared with me that exciting period of that literary movement.”
       She read widely, of course. A book a day, by family accounts — fiction or nonfiction, and in all areas and subjects.
       “Ideas interested her,” Rudolfo Anaya said. “She could talk ideas with a wide range of people.
       “I think the other thing that came up at the memorial is that everyone said she listened to people. She was a listener.
       “She would be intimately interested in what people had to say and was kind of a guide in a sense, not only for me, but for all those who came to our home.”
       He also remembered her as a staunch women's rights advocate.
       “She saw that so much work needed to be done in that area, even after the women's movement of the '60s,” he said. “She still saw the need everywhere, in this country and around the world. The subjugation of women really concerned her.”
       Patricia Anne Lawless was born in Lyons, Ind., but grew up in Elkhart, Kan., which sits in the southwest corner of the state.
       “The parents would visit New Mexico, and that's when she fell in love with New Mexico,” her husband said.
       She earned master's degrees in literature and counseling from the University of New Mexico, which is where she met Rudolfo Anaya.
       They were married in 1966, and she helped shape her husband's work.
       “The fact that she had degrees in literature and loved to read, when she read my manuscripts ... she could act as an editor, that is, to point out what was working and what wasn't working. Her analysis was always a close analysis, but also very positive.”
       When they married, Rudolfo Anaya said he was already working on his benchmark book “Bless Me, Ultima.”
       “I already had a couple of drafts of 'Bless Me, Ultima,' which was my first novel, and again she just saw that there was something of literary importance there and encouraged me to keep going, to keep writing.”
       Patricia Anaya's other survivors include daughters, Elynn Cowden and Melissa Morris and her husband Tony Messec of Albuquerque; grandchildren, Paige Messec, Jordan Messec, Kristan Galbraith of Lubbock, Texas, and Karen Dahl and her children Matias and Ellie; and brother, Don Lawless of Centennial, Colo.

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