Anita W. Labra
Ajijic resident Anita Watson Labra died July 9 at the age of 95.
Labra was born on October 26, 1921, in Oficina Delaware, Chile, the Dupont plant in the Andes mountains headed by her father, James Watson. When she was five, the family was transferred to Parlin, New Jersey, another Dupont town, and then 12 years later to Arizona. At age 19 she entered the Benedictine Convent of Mount Saint Scholastica in Atchison, Kansas.
Labra was sent to Mexico City in 1950 to start the Colegio Guadalupe, a large private school for girls associated with the newly completed monastery. There, she was mistress of novices and sub-prioress. During the summers of the early 1960s, she studied at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota, where she received a Master’s Degree in Sacred Theology.
Labra was dispensed from her religious vows by Pope Paul VI in 1964. She returned to Atchison as a Spanish professor at Mount St. Scholastica Women’s College and St. Benedict’s Men’s College.
She married Jose Luis Labra in Scottsdale, Arizona, in 1968. The couple lived 15 years in Phoenix where she taught Spanish at St. Mary’s High School, Gerard Catholic High School, Maricopa Community College, and the Berlitz Language School.
When the Labras moved to Ajijic in 1985, she continued teaching Spanish, with private classes. They enjoyed taking part in the popular “mime shows,” and are still remembered by old-time residents as the two drunks in “Tiny Bubbles.”
For six years, Labra was the English teacher for the novices at the Salesian Novitiate in Chula Vista. She volunteered for five years, working with local legend, Juanita Reed, who led village children in weekly crews cleaning litter from the streets.
She was preceded in death by her parents, James A. Watson and Anita Moreno; a brother, James A. Watson Jr., a sister, Carmen Watson Leyva, and a half-brother, John Henry Drum. She is survived by nephews and nieces in Guadalajara, Culiacan, Mexico City, Arizona, California and Idaho.
A bilingual funeral mass will be concelebrated on Saturday, July 29, 5 p.m. by Rev. Fathers Miguel Sencion and Basil G. Royston in Ajijic’s San Andres Church. Her ashes will rest in the adjoining Columbarium.
Murray Eugene Blanchard
Murray Blanchard died Saturday, July 8, surrounded by his family in Calgary, Alberta. Born, August 4, 1926 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Blanchard earned a Masters from M.I.T. in civil engineering. He worked in project management for many years, including stints with Montreal Engineering, Alcan, Denoes & Geddes, Rio Tinto and others.
The chief engineer on a major dam in Saudi Arabia, Blanchard also worked on a golf course on Grand Cayman Island, where he once golfed with Jack Nicklaus.
One of his passions was sailing. Blanchard bought the hull of a 32-foot sail boat, which he lovingly restored with the help of his children.
An excellent tennis and pool player and an avid golfer, he was also a well-educated food and wine connoisseur. He enjoyed crosswords, Sudoku, the internet and kept up on world news and politics. He loved dogs and cats and bred Boxers in Jamaica for a time.
Blanchard had a great sense of humor and was quick-witted. He loved to share his many adventures and people enjoyed his company. He was a member of The Lake Chapala Society.
Blanchard is survived by his daughter Sharon Blanchard of Gatineau, Quebec; his son and daughter-in-law Ian and Kathy Blanchard of Colorado Springs, Colorado; his daughter Lise Blanchard of Calgary; his grandchildren, Joshua and Jared Klassen of Calgary, Johnathan Blanchard of Gilbert, Arizona, Kristopher Blanchard of Colorado Springs, Colorado and Katelyn “Kat” Blanchard of Denver, Colorado; his great-granddaughter Sienna Hunchuk-Klassen; his sister Lorraine Manzo of Richmond, Virginia; and his brother-in-law Ron Harrop of Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The family will spread his ashes with a small ceremony. Details will follow. Condolences may be forwarded through mcinnisandholloway.com. In lieu of flowers, memorial tributes in Blanchard’s honor may be made directly to any animal shelter. In living memory of Blanchard, a tree will be planted at Fish Creek Provincial Park.