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Lifelong Taoseña and celebrated businesswoman Connie Garcia was a colorful yet rooted presence, known as the 'Matriarch of the Plaza.'

She and her husband Bernie Garcia opened their business in Taos in 1970 and kept it going for 50 years.

"So many of the mayors of Taos would come to her and they would discuss matters of the Plaza," said Garcia's daughter, Bernadine De Herrera, who worked at the family-run shop along with her brother, Mark Garcia and sister Janette Burnside.

Garcia spent her whole life playing, working and raising her family in connection with the Plaza.

Garcia passed away peacefully on March 24, 2021. She was 84.

Taos roots

Garcia was born Jan. 9, 1937, in Dixon, New Mexico, to Ernest and Rosanna Martínez. She attended McCurdy Mission School, and began working at the age of 13 -- at La Cocina, followed by Raglands Café, Credit Bureau of Taos and Fry's Western Wear on the Plaza.

Garcia attended Taos High School and graduated in 1956. She was a cheerleader, tennis player and softball pitcher. Her fastball was fierce.

Garcia attended Brigham Young University, and in 1957 she returned to Taos and married Bernie Garcia.

The Village Shop

Garcia and her husband opened the El Pueblo Shop in Taos in 1970, selling apparel, appliances and furniture. Two years later they moved their business to Taos Plaza at 110 North Plaza and renamed it The Village Shop.

Garcia promoted and encouraged local artists by featuring their art. She collaborated with Jesse Castenada and made the t-shirts for the first Taos Youth Soccer League.

Their business evolved into a Southwest art and Christmas ornament store, and sold handmade nativity scenes to customers around the world.

Always active

Garcia was deeply involved in the community and served on a number of civic committees. She also was a member of the Taos County Historical Society.

Continuing her love of sports, Garcia coached Little League for the El Prado Boys and the THS cheerleaders, and also formed a bowling league, belonging to the Taos Woman's League.

Garcia loved the outdoors, fishing and hunting, especially, and she never missed the Sheriff's Posse picnics and camp outs.

At age 18, she joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and served as a Primary President, Relief Society President and held many other callings.

A loving family

Garcia was preceded in death by her parents Ernest Martínez and Rosanna Martínez and in-laws Bernabe Garcia and Marina Garcia.

She is survived by her husband Bernie Garcia; children Bernadine De Herrera (Eric), Mark Garcia, Janette Burnside (M. Reed); sisters Carmen Lieurance (Stephen), Rosita Trujillo (Phillip); sisters-in-law Preciliana Garcia, Jacintita James (Nick); grandchildren Nicole Cromwell (Brandon), Jennifer Carriaga (John), Anthony Garcia (Tiffany), Emilio De Herrera (Ashli), Sonya Gomez (Gabriel), Amber Wayman (Justin); great-grandchildren Caleb, Vincent, Andrew, Tyler, Charlotte, Maverick, Clementine, Addison, Cassidy, Jared, Isaiah; special nephews Steve Rivera and Donovan Lieurance.

Private family services will be held, with arrangements made by DeVargas Funeral Home of Taos, devargastaos.com 1-866-657-4019.

To plant a tree in memory of Taos Connie Garcia as a living tribute, please visit Tribute Store.

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