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Santa Fe Fiesta queen made her mark on community

February 21, 2019

Funeral services are scheduled Monday for Marie Pino Ortiz, who had been one of the oldest living Santa Fe Fiesta queens until her death this week at age 86.

Daughter Angela Evans said her mother died Monday following a lengthy illness.

Evans said her mother was surrounded by family at the time of her death and told her loved ones, “I’ve been waiting for this all my life.” And right before she died, Evans said, “Her eyes opened and you saw the biggest blue eyes. She was looking into the light and she said, ‘I’m here.’ And then she died.”

Her mother was “a very holy person because of La Conquistadora,” Evans said. La Conquistadora is a statue of the Virgin Mary, said to be the oldest Madonna statue brought into what is now the U.S. and revered by local Hispanic Catholics.

Born in Santa Fe to Tony and Frances Pino, Marie graduated from Loretto Academy, an all-girls Catholic school in downtown Santa Fe. In 1950 she was named La Reina de la Fiesta. According to family lore, her speech that year, which she read in Spanish, caused the rowdy Fiesta crowd on the Plaza to hush and listen attentively — and applaud loudly when she finished.

She married Leonard Pino in 1954. The couple had four daughters. Leonard Pino died in 1988.

Marie worked as a nurse and X-ray technician for Dr. Louis Zucal, a longtime Santa Fe physician. Leonard Pino worked nearby at the state Health Department, Evans said.

“My mom dressed up all the time,” Evans said. “Even just to go to the grocery store, she’d always dress up. She didn’t drive. She walked everywhere. … She smiled all the time and never talked bad about anyone. Even when she got sick and was in great pain, she always smiled.”

Pino Ortiz is survived by three brothers, Gilbertino Pino of Santa Fe, Tony Pino of Albuquerque and Herman Pino of Houston; two sisters, Frances Holmes and Viola Pinkham, both of Albuquerque; four daughters including Evans, Christine Ortiz, Marsha Davis and Rose Grogg, all of Santa Fe and several grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian burial is scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday at St. Anne’s Catholic Church in Santa Fe followed by interment at Rosario Cemetery.