Rodolfo “Fito” R. Saenz, 92, of Chandler, passed away Sept. 10, 2019. He was born Nov. 2, 1926, in Metcalf, Arizona, to Eleodoro Saenz and Mariana Rodriguez Saenz. Rudy was one of 11 children. His siblings include Angela, Lillie, Tony, Teresa, Carol, Ester, Amy, Alice, Bobbi, and Ernie.
Rudy attended schools in the Morenci area until being drafted into WWII as a junior at Morenci High School. Though he loved defending his country, his one and only regret was not being able to graduate.
Rudy and Lillie “Lydia” Chavez married Oct. 4 in Bisbee and had five children, Rudy, Mark, Rene, Kenny, and Annette. Rudy lived in Morenci until 1964, when he transplanted his family to Safford for the next 50-plus years until he recently relocated to Chandler with his beloved Lillie. It was quite evident that Rudy’s love for family, friends, and strangers alike was so great you could see it by the way he welcomed everyone into his home.
His military friendship was quite evident during his tours in WWII and the Korean War as he kept in touch with his comrade, Glen Pucket, of Kentucky, until Rudy’s passing. Their bond was so incredible that they called each other for birthdays and holidays. Rudy would travel to Kentucky with his wife just to visit Glen. Glen, in turn, would travel to Safford.
He was an avid lover of sports (eventually enlisting his wife to share his passion), with baseball, basketball, and football, whether it be high school, college, or professional, his knowledge of the trivia involved in those sports was unbelievable! He was like a kid in a candy store when it came to attending sporting events throughout the country, whether traveling to New York, Dallas, Baltimore, Los Angeles, or other cities. Another passion of Rudy’s was his love for animals, raising his beloved chickens until no longer able.
Rudy is survived by his loving wife, Lillie Saenz, of Chandler; Mark (Mercy) Saenz, of Tucson, Rene Saenz, of Florida, Kenneth Saenz and Billy Miller, of Baltimore, and Annette Saenz, of Chandler; his siblings, Angela Padilla, Tony Saenz, Amy Rodriguez, Ester Vallejo, Bobby Sanchez, and Ernie Saenz; 12 grandchildren; 19 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his son, Rodolfo “Rudy” Saenz; his parents, Mariana and Eleodoro Saenz, and sisters, Lillie Garcia, Teresa Villareal, Carol Westley, and Alice Gomez.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the “Lillie of the Valley Garden Trust Fund” in care of Saint Rosa of Lima Catholic Church at 311 Central Ave., Safford, AZ 85546.
Arrangements are under the direction of McDougal’s Caldwell Funeral Chapel & Gila Valley Crematory. Online condolences may be extended at www.caldwellfuneralchapel.com.