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Mexicali pays its respects to first lady who died of leukemia

May 25, 2001|By ARTURO BOJORQUEZ, Staff Writer

Chapel No. 4 of Jardín de la Esperanza was full.

A rosary was prayed in her memory.

Just a few flowers and a couple setups for donations were at the entrance to the chapel.

Some cried almost silently.

A long line of family friends and local politicians from all parties waited until 2 p.m., when visitors were allowed to enter the chapel to pay their respects to Maria Cristina Ramos de Hermosillo, the wife of Mexicali's mayor.

"She was loved by the citizens of Mexicali. She was a hard worker," said Mexicali Police Chief Francisco Iribe Paniagua.

"For us she hasn't died. Her spirit pushed us to do more to benefit our communities," he added.

A meeting of the mayor's staff was held in Mexicali on Thursday morning and staffers were mandated to keep working as they had in the past.

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"(Mayor Víctor Hermosillo) wants us to work with all intensity and I think that is the best tribute we can give to ‘Macristy,' " said Iribe.

Imperial Valley leaders were saddened by Mrs. Hermosillo's death.

"It is a very great loss for both Mexicali and Calexico," said Calexico City Councilman John Renison.

Said Calexico City Councilman Gilbert Grijalva: "She did a lot of good things. She was a big-hearted person who helped the ones who needed help."

Last year, Mrs. Hermosillo asked for support for the Villa Esperanza project, which helps homeless children in Mexicali.

A dinner was held in Calexico for the program and Calexico's Chamber of Commerce supported it.

Mrs. Hermosillo also organized other programs to help the city's poor.

"The good thing is that she finally rests after a hard illness of five months, God took her to stop her suffering," said Mexicali City Councilman Luis Sánchez, a member of the National Action Party, to which the former first lady belonged.

"She left us a legacy of optimism and happiness to do things," Sánchez added.

María Cristina Ramos formed Free Women in Favor of Democracy in 1986 to defend her party's perceived victory in a election, a victory that was never recognized.

"There will always be leaders in our party of that highness, but she left an empty space because on her plentitude of work she left us," said Sánchez.

Bob Ham, local representative of Assemblyman David Kelley, visited the Hermosillos to present the mayor the legislator's condolences.

"I was shocked. She was a wonderful person," said Ham.

Kelley told Ham there was a ceremony Thursday in Sacramento in the Assembly to recognize those who had died and Kelley gave a speech lauding Mrs. Hermosillo.

Said Imperial County Board of Supervisors Chairman Tony Tirado: "It's incredible. She was a woman that did for the children of Mexicali what nobody has done before."

On Tuesday there will be a ceremony in Mrs. Hermosillo's honor when the Board of Supervisors convenes, Tirado said.

Mexicali's morning newspapers today were full of ads announcing condolences from businessmen, politicians and friends of the Hermosillo family.

Renison will propose his colleagues make a donation to help with Mrs. Hermosillo's projects with the poor.

Ham said Kelley will make a donation to the Rescate de las Calles program.

Tirado will ask his colleagues to make a contribution to Mrs. Hermosillo's programs.

Staff Writer Arturo Bojorquez can be reached at 337-3451.

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