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Connie “Conchita” Soto

Connie “Conchita” Soto, known lovingly by her family as Nena, passed quietly away on February 11, 2024, after spending almost 100 years on this Earth. Connie was a wonderful wife, loving mother, grandmother, auntie, and all-around beautiful person. During these 100 years, she made sure to live a full life that overflowed with love, care, and kindness.

Connie Soto

Connie was born and raised in the Clifton/Morenci, Arizona area, which is historically known for its copper mines.  She was one of 10 children, six girls and four boys, and as a child, Connie loved playing outdoors and was known to be one of the smartest and most agile of her family.  In school, she earned a reputation for being smart and athletic.  During high school, she played on the basketball and volleyball teams and Connie also earned awards and scholarships for her academic abilities.  Connie was also an artist.  Her sisters told stories about the works of intricate floral art that Connie could create on a potato sack dress by removing threads from the sacks.

Throughout her life, Connie was a skilled artist in any art form she tried, including painting, sculpture, drawing, embroidery, and sewing. She once hand-made a Native American costume for her granddaughter to wear to school for California History Day in less than 12 hours without a pattern, using only the materials that she had at home.

Connie used her scholarships to earn a registered nursing degree from St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, a world leader in neurological and neurosurgical care, research, and medical education.   

She married her husband, Daniel Ponce Soto, 76 years ago, and they enjoyed 69 years together before Daniel left this Earth to patiently wait in heaven for Connie to join him.   Together, Daniel and Connie had five children: Ricky, Diana, who passed away early in her life, and Joey, Gibby, and Elaine.  Connie and Daniel lived and raised their children in the China Lake/Ridgecrest area for over 70 years.

During that time, Connie spent over 40 of those years working as a nurse at Ridgecrest Community Hospital. She was a Charge Nurse in the hospital’s new Intensive Care Unit when it first opened. Connie spent most of her career as an ICU/CCU nurse, bringing highly skilled nursing knowledge, care, and comfort to patients.

Connie was such a skilled nurse that she was asked to return to nursing school to earn her master’s degree, which she did while being a wife and mother.   Her intelligence and skills were so remarkable that she was asked to continue in school to become a medical doctor.   She turned this opportunity down because she felt it might be too much to be a wife, mom, and doctor at the same time and do all well.   As a grandmother, Connie told her granddaughter and great-granddaughter that this was a mistake and that they should pursue whatever goal or dream they had.   Connie would tell any young person and would want every woman to know that you can do the things you want to do and you should never limit your possibilities.  She encouraged independence for all her daughters, granddaughters, great-granddaughters, and nieces.

Even at 99 years old, if you said Connie used to be a nurse, she would correct and inform you, “I am a nurse.”   She was faithful to her call and passionate about her career.  Nursing was part of her core values, and she approached life and all humanity with care and compassion.

Connie was an expert nurse. Throughout her life, she cared for many patients and their families through any major health crisis in the ICU/CCU or on the surgical wing. She nursed many patients through major surgeries, devastating injuries, or illnesses, and some she helped bring back from near death.   

Connie offered comfort and knowledge to the patient who was passing on and to their loved ones. She would stay with them, and she helped the patient leave this Earth with dignity, respect, and less fear. Living in a small town, many had stories of how wonderfully Connie cared for them while they were ill.   

Beyond caring for her patients in the ICU, Connie cared for family members, friends, and neighbors during her time here.  Several times during her long life, Connie left her own family and took time off from work to care for another who needed quality and extensive care at home to recover from a major health concern. Connie, being a nurse and healer, understood that people needed care beyond just their physical health.  She offered strength and support for the mental and emotional health of loved ones and others, at times helping them through some rough times in life, with strong and good words, always with kindness and gentleness.   

Connie was a wonderful mother and expert Grandma.   She had six grandkids, 12 great-grandkids, and three great-great-grandkids.   She enjoyed spending time with all her kids and often took them shopping, out to eat, or on apple-picking trips.   She taught all her children the importance of family, standing together, and loving one another. She played with her children and grandkids outside and taught them to play sports, ride bikes, climb trees, fight moves, and be creative.  She helped them with their schoolwork and enjoyed reading books with them.   Connie, a natural athlete, also enjoyed watching boxing matches, basketball games, and the Olympics, especially gymnastics and skating, on TV with her husband, family, and friends.   As all her kids got older, each enjoyed swinging by her house for a visit or when they were hungry because Connie was an excellent cook and had an amazing ability to whip up a tasty meal out of whatever food was in the kitchen. Connie also enjoyed music and singing.  Often, while she cooked, her family could hear her singing beautifully in English and Spanish. A morning person, Connie was up early with her grandkids and watched them play outside before breakfast, sneaking them pan dulce and Cafecito with lots of milk and sugar.   

Connie was a devout Catholic.  She lived her faith throughout her life in the way she treated others, and she raised her children and grandchildren in the Catholic faith.  She taught all her kids to pray and took them to mass. Her grandchildren loved going to early Sunday Mass with her because she took them out for breakfast afterward with aunts, uncles, and cousins at the Cottage Cafe, a favorite breakfast spot.  Connie volunteered at Saint Ann Catholic Church as a Perpetual Adorer of the Eucharist multiple times a week during early morning hours.   Connie strove to live her faith, and her love for Jesus and the Holy Mother was apparent in how she lived her life. Her greatest acts of faith were shown in how she cared for others.  Connie loved angels and the Holy Mother and would spend time every day praying to Jesus and for the Holy Mother to send angels to watch over her loved ones and carry the suffering people of the world through their struggles.   She enjoyed praying the rosary and often had her grandkids sit down to pray the rosary with her when they visited or during long car trips.

To live her life so fully and give so much care and kindness to others, Connie had to be tough.  She was able to help carry others and herself through dark times with an unmatched sense of peace and stoicism.   Connie’s mind and her heart were strong, and she was physically tough.  She survived a broken back, several other major health concerns, a major stroke, heart attack and infection, a broken hip, and a worldwide pandemic as an elderly person, during which she caught Covid twice.   Her advice to people when they were struggling was that even when it’s hard, you must know that you can do it and keep going, and this is how she lived her own life.

Connie was a good mother and grandmother who made sure her home was always open and welcoming to her loved ones.  They could come at any time and stay as long as needed, knowing that they would be safe, loved, and cared for.    Connie was a good friend who enjoyed traveling, exploring, and shopping with her two best nurse friends, Eleanor and Nina. She enjoyed dining out with family and friends, and she always had an appreciation for a good plate of nachos or a shared milkshake with her grandkids.   

Connie left this Earth as the last of her 10 siblings and returned to heaven to be with Jesus, her husband Daniel, her parents, brothers and sisters, daughter Diana, and great-grandson Lyrik, who have been waiting for her and we know received her with great joy.  Connie lived a full long life and is joyously remembered and lovingly missed by sons Ricky, Joey, Gibby (Darlene), and daughter Elaine (Jim), six grandchildren, Jennifer (Tim), Joseph (Melissa), Jeremiah (Sarah), Elijah (Michelle), Amber (Danny), Skyler, 11 great-grandchildren, AnnaMarie, Ramon, Lucia, Ella, Skylee, Logan (Kennedy), Luke (Becca), Emily, Wyatt (Mary), Paden, three great-great grandchildren, Addison, Finnley, and Liam, and family friends Gary and Joanie Nordvall, Beverly Ernest, and Jo Ann Dickey.  Connie rests with Jesus and the angels she loves now.

Services for Connie Soto will be on Friday, May 3, 2024, at Saint Ann Catholic Church. A rosary will be held at 10:30 AM, preceding the mass at 11 AM. The reception will follow at the parish hall.