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Grace Sofia Apodaca

October 18, 1939September 19, 2020
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Grace Sofia Apodaca née Griego, was born October 18, 1939, at Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA. Her parents were Melinda Chavez-Narvaiz and Pablo Francisco Griego. Grace graduated from Santa Fe High School where she met John Alfonso Apodaca, and they married on December 27, 1958, in Raton, New Mexico, his hometown. They were married 40 years, until his passing in September 1998. John served in the US Navy for 22 years and reached the rank of Chief Warrant Officer. The family moved with each assignment, and a son was born in 1961 in San Diego, California, and a daughter in 1962 and another son in 1963, both in Honolulu, Hawaii. Duty orders also took the family to Virginia Beach, Virginia in the middle 1960’s, Guam in the late 1960’s, San Diego in 1970, Bremerton, Washington in the middle 1970’s, and Yokohama Japan in the late 1970’s, but, San Diego was the family home port, and it became permanent in 1978.

Family is very important to the Apodacas and Griegos. There are double cousins in the families because sisters Maida and Grace Griego married brothers Henry and John Apodaca. Throughout the decades, family reunions have been held in places such as Raton, Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and Las Cruces, New Mexico; El Paso and Del Rio, Texas; Aurora and Boulder, CO; Northern Virginia; Miami FL; and San Diego, CA.

Grace’s career included Water Safety Instructor where she taught swimming lessons as a volunteer and in paid positions. She earned an AA degree in Bilingual Cross Cultural Education. She worked as a teacher’s assistant in bilingual education, and coordinated the school computer labs at Granger Junior High School. Later, she was a librarian’s assistant. During that time she founded the first junior high school MECHA Club helping with fund raising and community service. Grace retired from the Sweetwater Union High School District after eighteen years at Granger.

Volunteer work for the church and community were important to Grace and the family. Many members of both Apodaca and Griego families have volunteered with Casas Por Cristo. With this missionary organization our extended families have participated in group building projects in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. We replaced cardboard shacks with two and three room houses, and improved schools. Grace was an expert builder and taught many how to apply stucco and perform other tasks.

Music and church choir is a big part of our family. Grace introduced the guitar to James at a young age, and John played saxophone in school band. Grace played violin as well and her favorite violin duet with Juliet was “Dust In the Wind” by Kansas. In Japan the family members were singers and musicians in the church choir. Grace and son John have continued with the choir at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in San Ysidro, and son, James with the choir at Our Mother of Confidence in San Diego. Songs like ‘Amazing Grace’ and the ‘Prayer of Saint Francis’ remind me of her.

At Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Grace taught CCD classes for many years, counted church collection donations for many years, and served on the church finance committee for five years.

Grace volunteered with “Hearts and Hands Working Together” picking up and distributing food donations to the disadvantaged. Often, one or more of the grandchildren helped.

Grace volunteered with school Mariachi music groups from Montgomery Junior and High Schools, Chula Vista High School, and Southwestern College, chaperoning students to local and out of town performances.

For her service to the people of San Diego, the 23rd day of October 2015 was proclaimed as “Grace Sofia Apodaca Day” as presented by Council member David Alvarez and approved by the San Diego City Council and Mayor.

Grace passed down many delicious New Mexico flavored family recipes to her granddaughters. Christmas time activities included building gingerbread houses, baking bizcochitos, and delivering her highly sought after fruit cakes to her many fans.

Grace was a cool mom who enjoyed bicycle riding, playing tennis, riding motorcycles, bowling, softball, and swimming. Grace also liked professional baseball and enjoyed going to the Padres games. Often she would watch games at home and enjoy a beer.

Grace has been supportive, generous, loving, and encouraging to family, friends, and the community. We will miss her greatly.

Grace passed away on September 19th, 2020, in San Ysidro, CA, and is survived by three children, John Paul Apodaca, Juliet Apodaca Kardell, James Donato Apodaca, and six grandchildren, James Jr, Janelle, Christopher, Brandon, Catherine, and Jillian.

Detailed list of volunteer work, employment, education, and accomplishments:

Guam, 1967 – 1970 • Volunteer work: taught religious classes, taught swimming for American Red Cross, raised funds for wounded warriors with the Navy Chief Wives Club.

San Diego, CA, 1970 – 1974 • Worked for the school district teaching swimming at Mar Vista High School in Imperial Beach.

Bremerton, WA, 1974 – 1975 • Taught swimming at YMCA. As a volunteer for American Red Cross taught swimming to handicapped veterans, and children and adults with special needs.

Yokohama, Japan, 1976 – 1978 • As a volunteer taught swimming for American Red Cross, participated in church choir, youth counselor for the Chapel Center • Member of the Officers Wives Club. Coached and played softball with the Officer Wives Club. • Served as Boy Scout Camp Leader, in charge of the Swimming Program, for the summer. Son, James, assisted in the program.

San Diego, CA, 1978 – 1990’s • Worked for Sweetwater Union High School District, at Granger Junior High, as a Classified Employee/Teacher’s Assistant, in the Bilingual Program. Worked with ESL students in the classroom and Learning Resource Center. • Completed program of studies for Bilingual Instructional Aide, Southwestern College, January 1982. • Transferred to the Math and Science Classes at Granger Junior High, continued working with ESL and Chapter I students. • Trained and assigned to run the Writing Computer Lab for three years and later trained and managed the Wycat Computer Lab. • Transferred to the Granger Library, worked as a Librarian’s Assistant for three years. • Retired from the Sweetwater Union High School District after 18 years at Granger Junior High. • (Volunteer Work) Served as the 1st Junior High School MECHA Club Advisor in the SUHSD, from 1990-1998. Stressing the importance of brotherhood and education, we did fund raising, as well as fun activities, throughout the school year. • Associate in Arts Degree in Bilingual Cross Cultural Education, with Honors, Southwestern College, June 1987.

San Diego, CA, 1990’s and on • Casas Por Cristo building projects at Juarez, Mexico each April and October, from October 1997 and on. This faith-based nonprofit organization builds homes for disadvantaged families in Latin America. "Apodaca Family & Friends" is the name of our family building crew, who are also the providers of the funds for building the houses. John A and Grace took part in the first build project. Sons, John Paul and James, participated at other builds as well as granddaughters, Catherine and Jillian. Our group leaders are Henry and Maida Apodaca, residents of El Paso, Texas, where Casas Por Cristo Headquarters is located. Our work continues. • Awarded the Valuable Volunteer Award from International Preschool and Kindergarten, San Diego, for school year 1996/1997. Performed fundraising and accompanied students on field trips. • Recognized by the South Bay Union School District for service to Nestor Elementary Language Academy, school year 2002/2003. Assisted in school activities and fund raising.

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church – church member since 1981 (Volunteer Work) • Assisted and taught Religious Education Classes since September of 2001. • Served on the Finance Committee for 5 years. • Served on the OLMC Counting Committee since December of 2002.

Mariachi School Programs, SUHSD 2004 – 2010 (Volunteer Work) • Montgomery Middle School, 2004 – 2006 - Chaperoned students to and from performances and competitions, was in charge of upkeep of uniforms. • Montgomery High School, 2006 – 2008 - Chaperoned students to and from performances and competitions • Chula Vista High School, 2008 – 2010 - Chaperoned students to and from performances and competitions, including a week in Guadalajara, Mexico in September of 2010. • Southwestern College, 2008 – 2010 - Supported performances and chaperoned.

Hearts and Hands Working Together (Volunteer Work) • Food distribution and fund raising since 2004. • Sons and daughter, and all grandchildren have also donated their time and efforts on several occasions.

March of Dimes (Volunteer Work) • Mothers March volunteer, since 2003.

Recognized for her service to the community by San Diego City Council member David Alvarez. The 23rd day of October 2015 was proclaimed as “Grace Sofia Apodaca Day” as presented by and approved by the San Diego City Council and Mayor.

For more information about Casas Por Cristo – https://casasporcristo.org/

Obituary – https://www.dignitymemorial.com/obituaries/chula-vista-ca/grace-apodaca-9373298


  • John Paul Apodaca, Son
  • James Apodaca, Son
  • Juliet Apodaca, Daughter

Learn more about the Apodaca name


  • Memorial Service

    Saturday, October 10, 2020

  • Committal Service

    Wednesday, October 14, 2020


Grace Sofia Apodaca

have a memory or condolence to add?

Lou Michaels

October 9, 2020

To my dear Tia Gracie. I loved visiting you in San Diego whenever I would come down. Your were always so cordial and open your doors to me and welcomed me with open loving arms.

I will always remember when Ana and I were over visiting and you and Ana were making lunch. You surely did love your tomatoes!

My BLT was loaded with tomatoes! Oh my gosh!

I will surely miss you and the fun tour guide you were. Especially on the ship (Midway) docked in the San Diego Harbor, where you and Uncle Johnny actually once stayed on when he was on active duty.

God Bless you. May the Lord keep you by his side. Love, Lou (Lucio)

Julio Villarreal

October 5, 2020

Your mom was an amazing woman. Early 2000s my wife and I helped on Confirmation retreats at OLMC. Grace was always willing to lead and help where needed. I remember her playing basketball and baseball with the teenagers during retreats. She had so much energy. She was always so positive with the kids. A regular at 5pm mass and at choir. She was always there Saturday mornings for Religious education. A true example of leading a Christian life in all she did. I remember the little boxes she would make of old Christmas cards and give out with a chocolate in them. I’m so thankful I was able to share some time with her. My condolences to you and your family.
— Julio Villarreal

Ana Gomez

October 2, 2020

🤲🏼 Today, Celebrating The Life & Memory of Grace Sofia Apodaca de Griego, with her Siblings; Eldest Sister; Maida Apodaca & Youngest Brother; Pablo Griego, in Albuquerque, NM.
Love the Memories 🧡💫🌟😄

Ana Gomez

October 2, 2020

Thank You, Apodacas' Thomas & Sue, for hosting a Memorial today, in Albuquerque, for Grace, Sister, Aunt, Friend @ Your Marvelous Church.

A Wonderful Service with Beautiful Family & Friends of Santa Fe, Albuquerque & Tennessee.

Sending Our Love, Prayers & Thoughts of Grace Sofia to the Heavens.

Gloria Escalera

October 1, 2020

I worked with Grace at Granger Jr. High in National City around 1980‘s. We were Computer Lab/Instructional Assistants, we had a club for students called Culture Club.
All the staff & students enjoyed working with her, she was always so full of energy and fun to be with. I will always remember that Grace & I attended the Olympics in LA 1984. She is in my memories forever.

Ana Gomez

September 30, 2020

😁Aunt Grace, expressed how much She loved visiting Uncle John's Carrier, on which He was stationed.
A San Diego Treasure! The Ships, Museums, USS Midway too.

Ana Gómez

September 30, 2020

Our Beautiful San Diego, Tour Guide! Aunt Grace said she delighted attending Military Ceremonies!
Lou, Aunt Grace, Marcos, Ana, Gabriella, Misha, Isabellah
Thank You Auntie, 💛

Ana Gomez

September 30, 2020

A visit in Santa Fe. Grace's siblings;
Gilbert, Pablo, Marcella, other sister Maida, not in photo.
Standing Maria, Ana, Dolores, Joseph.
Bonito recuerdos

Ana Gomez

September 30, 2020

Flashback; Santa Fe "Mujeres"

Ana Gomez

September 29, 2020

Gatherings in Santa Fe, City of Birth to many others too.


Learn more about the Apodaca name