On Nov. 1, 2010, an amazing woman was passed back to the Lord. Maria Cantu, 90, passed away in Billings with her beloved family by her side.
She was born July 18, 1920, in Rancho Bueno Vista, Mexico to Acencio Morales and Concepcion Aldaco Cardonas Rodriguez. On March 15, 1941, she married Seraphin Cantu in Terhan, Mexico, and immigrated to Texas in 1943. In 1951, they moved to Montana and settled in the Yellowstone Valley. In 1960, they settled in to their ranch homestead outside of Ballantine. They remained married for 69 years and were still together at the time of her passing.
Maria became a U.S. citizen on Sept. 22, 1982, and in turn became a teacher educating local farm workers. She was an amazing cook and took pride in her tamales and tortillas, which were her main source of income. She was also an immaculate quilter and made quilts for all of her grandchildren, many of her great-grandchildren and family friends. She had the greenest thumb and could grow anything with care and ease. At her farm, Maria created an oasis of flowers, fruits and vegetables. She insisted that all of her grandchildren take part in all that she did and loved to hold them in her lap. She was always the cook and the seamstress, repairing anything and everything for everyone. She could create pieces of art out of nothing and always shared her creations with those around her. She was and will always be the glue that holds our distant family together. Never has there been someone so special with such an amazing soul. She will be greatly missed and loved forever. Her tremendous faith allowed her family to realize that she is where she belongs, with the Lord.
Maria was preceded in death by her daughter Maria and stepdaughter Trina. She grew up with four sisters and three brothers. She raised six children: Maria Cannon (Jim Cannon), Dora Flanagan (Joe Flanagan), Oliberio Cantu (Ikuko Tsusjimoto), Octavio Cantu, Oscar Cantu (Donna Cantu), Horacio Cantu (Laurie Black). She also has three stepdaughters: Lilia DeLeon, Sarah Garra and Trini Rodriguez.
Maria was also blessed with several beautiful grandchildren who were the light of her life. They include: Tony Misura, Kimberly Cantu, Tamatha Barnhart, Juanita Ostrem, Clint Flanagan, Juan Cantu, Allen Cantu, Jason Cantu, Sarita Cantu-Erickson, Brooke Block, Bradley Cantu, Brian Cantu, Thomas Cantu and Pablo Cantu. She was also graced with 22 great-grandchildren.
Visitations will begin Wednesday evening, Nov. 3, at Smith Downtown Chapel. A vigil service will be held at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 4, at the Smith Downtown Chapel. The funeral Mass will be at 11 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 5, at St. Cyril and Methodius Catholic Church near Ballantine with Rite of Committal at the Pleasantview Cemetery.