Obituary for Frances P. Montez

Frances P Montez, 85, born April 15, 1937, in Safford, Arizona passed away in her Thatcher home at 11:20 p.m. on Thursday, Feb 9, 2023.

Frances was the first of 10 children born to parents Trinidad Polanco Montez, of Thatcher, and Dolores Padilla Montez, of Safford. She is predeceased by her father (February 22, 1970), and her mother (December 15, 2007); brothers, Ernesto Conrad “Netto” Montez (June 26, 1946), Leonardo P Montez (March 14, 2011), Jose Luis “Louie” Montez (August 18, 2018), and nephew Anthony Gilbert Montez (July 19, 1964).

She is survived by her three children, Elisa Pursley (Gregory), Arnold Whitlock, and Thomas “Bru” Montez (Kelly); seven biological grandchildren, Breanna Hance (Brandon), Michael Pursley (Allison), Erica Bryant, Kristopher Whitlock, Jessica Perry (Jordan), Michal Lynn Atkins (Nick), and Kyler Montez, along with three step-grandchildren, Rhiannon Rose, Kaitlyn Mazzini, and Cameron Humphries; 13 great-grandchildren, Baron, Blakely and Briar Hance; Madeline Pursley; Keegan Bryant; Remy, Lucy and Jax Perry; Riley and Crowley Atkins; Axeton and Apollo Rose, and Abelynn Mazzini. She will be greatly missed by her siblings, Gilbert P. Montez, Sylvia Wimberly (Raymond), Mary Nottingham (“Cubby”-d), Norma Sanchez (Frederick), Rita Reed, and Gloria Orosco (Richard), sister-in-law Cynthia Montez (“Louie”-d); and 26 nieces and nephews.

Frances was born and raised in the Gila Valley. She never lived anywhere else except for that time the family moved to California only to return home to Arizona after just a few months because of some “cursed” chicken! She loved calling Thatcher her home and she was proud to be rooted here for generations before her.

She valued her family above all else, always putting them and their needs above her own. From a young age, she was expected to see to the basic needs of all her younger siblings and for the family. She did that by making sacrifices in her own life to ensure she could meet their needs. As her time toward the end became more limited and people began coming by to see her one consistent thing kept coming up. Her sisters and her only living brother expressed their gratitude for the personal sacrifices they knew she made to help make their lives just a little bit easier; and for being “like a mother” to them.

Frances P. Montez

That priority of putting her family first never wavered. It started with her brothers and sisters and continued with her children. She worked hard to give them a real home, something that wasn’t easy for a single mother with limited formal education to do in the 1970s. She made sure they were able to participate and compete with their friends and schoolmates. She was proud of their accomplishments, telling the stories of their achievements over and over to anyone who asked about her kids. It was easy to see how proud she was of all of them.

Frances had a reputation for having an open door. And while she was never accused of being “that sweet little old lady,” she had a huge, giving heart to those who knew her. At one time or another, she took in people from inside, and sometimes even from outside, the family. People who needed a place to stay knew they could turn to her and be taken in and fed. It wasn’t always with a pleasant “good morning” or a lovely smile, but those things were certainly buried under her pride. Her social graces were a little rough around the edges sometimes, but there was no mistaking her generosity and willingness to help people she cared about. If anyone ever asked her why, she’d simply say, “well, that’s what family does.”

She worked tirelessly throughout her career, first as a waitress at local restaurants like Geer’s House of Plenty, El Coronado, El Ranchito, The Star Café, the original El Charro, and others. She made some lifelong friendships and liaisons, and at various times she’d known every cop in town – not the most fun for her teenage kids looking for fun on a Friday night! In her later career, she worked as a cook for Ricardo’s, and at the Methodist Daycare where she served for almost 20 years before retiring.

She was creative and resourceful. She could feed 50 people for under $20 and leave everyone raving about the food! She had many, many recipes, but most were kept safe in her head. She measured ingredients by the size of her finger pinches, so no one could really ever know for sure how to get her “just right” flavors. She made Christmas ornaments, wreaths, potholders, and centerpieces for friends and neighbors, and anyone who has a “Frances original” is one of the fortunate ones and should hold on to it!

Something one could say became her legacy she shared with almost everyone she came across in her life that touched her in a positive way, her one-of-a-kind crocheted blankets. She began crocheting as a hobby in the early 1970s. She taught herself to do it and eventually she perfected a favorite pattern for making patchwork Afghan blankets. And it’s gifting those blankets that is her legacy. If she knew you and you had a baby or any significant life event she would find out what special colors were important to you, and viola, within a few days or a week, at most, you would have a custom, original, one of a kind patchwork Afghan blanket, handmade with love by Frances.

Frances P. Montez was a strong and selfless person who loved her family. She liked simple things and good food. And she loved the Dallas Cowboys, Conway Twitty, and George Strait. She touched the lives of so many people in her 85 years. And she always left things better than she found them. She will be missed by all the generations of people who knew her, and she will be remembered by the memories that her children and grandchildren will pass on to their children and grandchildren.

Thank you, Frances, our sister, our mother, our grandmother, aunt, cousin, and friend, for all you taught us and for all you leave with us. You are missed already, and you will not be forgotten.

Arrangements are under the direction of McDougal’s Caldwell Funeral Chapel & Gila Valley Crematory.  Online condolences may be extended at

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