Lillie C. Saenz, 88, of Chandler, Arizona, a long-time resident of Safford, passed away on Oct. 6, 2021, at home.
On March 28, 1933, Lillie was born to Antonio and Antonia Chavez in Bisbee, Arizona, where she spent her childhood and most of her school days with a short period in Tiger, Arizona, along with her four brothers, Tony, Mauricio, Santiago, Conrado, and Leo.
In 1952, she met and married the love of her life, Rodolfo R. “Fito” Saenz, in Bisbee, quickly relocating to Morenci, Arizona, where the two began raising a family. With their five children, Rudy, Mark, Rene, Kenny, and Annette, they relocated to Safford, Arizona, in 1964.
Shortly after moving to Safford, Lillie began to work with the Safford public schools in the cafeteria and snack bar and was the biggest cheerleader for her five children.
The loves of her life were her 12 grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren.
She was magical with those children whether it was one on one or all if she could; teaching them baking and cooking skills and, on occasion, a fun flour fight, but above all, prayer and just being a good person. Summers and Christmas time were two of her most favorite times with those children.
She always made time for the love and passion of her faith within the Catholic Church. Her devotion to our Lord Jesus Christ and her guidance through prayer of our Blessed Virgin Mary compelled her to reach out to the poor and sick in the Gila Valley and of further reach. She began as a teacher of the Catholic Faith (CCD) at her beloved St. Rose of Lima, preparing her second graders for their first Holy Communion. Once she began there was no stopping her. Going into the Eucharist Ministry and Eucharist Minister for the sick and shut-ins and later becoming coordinator/trainer of the Ministry. She created the Messengers of Mary and the Living Rosary, thus creating the Pilgrim Virgin, which went from house to house of whoever wanted to share the power of prayer. The Pilgrim Virgin had been blessed for her journey by Bishop Moreno of the Tucson Diocese to visit the sick and all to pray the rosary and consecrate family to the Immaculate Heart of Mary through St Louis De Montfort. She also began the “Procession of OLOG Pilgrimage” and was the coordinator for several years. Lillie also attended the retreat to become a Cursillista which was a lifetime dream. Also a member of the Secular St. Franciscan Order and also the Consecration to Jesus through our Blessed Virgin Mary.
One more vision was the creation of her garden on the grounds of St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church. The fun that she had selling brick by brick, bench by bench, cake by cake. The ability to bring everyone together of all denominations along with her Messengers of Mary to visualize and create was a dream come true. Today one can still volunteer their time to help or help by any means by contacting St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church.
Lillie is preceded in death by her husband, Rodolfo R “Fito”; her son, Rudolf “Rudy”; parents, Antonio and Antonia Chavez, and brothers, Tony, Maurico, Santiago, Conrado, and Leo, and an infant sister.
She is survived by her loving children, Mark (Mercedez), of Tucson, Rene, of Florida, Kenneth (Billy Miler), of Maryland, and Annette, of Chandler; 12 grandchildren; 21 great-grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, donations will be accepted by St Rose of Lima Catholic Church, 311 Central Ave. Safford, Arizona 85546. Please designate “Garden Fund”.
A viewing will take place on Thursday, Oct. 14, at 6 p.m., at McDougal’s Caldwell Funeral Chapel. Afterward, the recitation of the Rosary will be held at 7 p.m. and funeral services will take place on Friday, Oct. 15 at 11 a.m., at the St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church.
Arrangements are being cared for by McDougal’s Caldwell Funeral Chapel located at 112 E. Main St., Safford, Arizona 85546.