Carmen Ybarra Portillo
Carmen Ybarra Portillo

July 16, 1931 - April 14, 2020
Born in Hayden, Arizona
Resided in Phoenix, Arizona
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On April 14th, our mother, Carmen Ybarra Portillo was called home to begin her fifth day with our loving God in heaven. Carmen was the youngest child born to Bernardo and Paula Ybarra in Hayden, Arizona. Named for the feast day on which she was born, Carmen lived a long and fruitful life in service to all who knew her as a teacher, administrator, parishioner, wife, aunt, sister, nana, mother and friend.

Carmen is survived by two children, Frances Portillo (James Mehrens) and David Portillo (Julie), two granddaughters Amanda Takacs (Kevin) and Molly Portillo and her dear friend and companion, Mike Caviasca. Six nieces and nephews along with numerous great-nieces and nephews also survive Carmen. Her parents and three sisters, Dr. Frances Y Amabisca, Mary Y. Garcia and Elidia Y Herrera, precede her in death.

A Sun Devil at heart (Beat The U!), she spent four happy years as an undergraduate in Tempe. Carmen earned her BA in Education from then Arizona State College, returning later to earn her Masters in Special Education and endorsements in Bilingual/ESL Adult Education from Arizona State University. She loved school and being in school. A proud member of the teaching profession, Carmen went on to teach and mentor for 50 years in a variety of subjects and directing Head Start programs. The native Arizonan taught in school districts in Litchfield Park, Wilcox, San Simon, Cashion, Wilson and Glendale. Twenty-two years into her teaching profession, Carmen found a deeper calling in the Special Education field. Her patience and bilingual skills helped many students in this area and filled a great need as one of Arizona’s first certified Bilingual Special Education teacher. After 18 more years, Carmen looked to retire but her beloved Arizona State University had other plans for this specialized teacher. Carmen was asked to teach and inspire young teachers going into Special Education. Her dedication to teaching helped produce another generation of Bilingual Special Education teachers.

Along with teaching, Carmen was also a proud member of the following educational professional organizations: Delta Kappa Gamma International Society for Women Educators (50 plus years!), the National Education Association, Arizona Education Association and the National Association for Bilingual Education.

Residing in the Avondale/Goodyear area for most of her life, Carmen loved her friendly and active community. She loved her family and taking care of her aging parents in a setting where everyone knew each other and helped each other. She especially enjoyed her strong Catholic community at St. John Vianney, which nurtured and allowed her faith to be strengthened. Her final calling to faith was making her Cursillo. Carmen’s father, Bernardo had made his Cursillo in the early 1960’s followed by her son, David in the early 2000’s. Being a part of the Cursillo Movement was a blessing as participating in a weekend created a family bond from father to son to daughter. It was a joy seeing Carmen relish in the Catholic faith, all its’ meaning coming to life for her to live on in the fourth day. De Colores!

In her later years, she moved to a retirement community in Phoenix where as she says, “I finally get to live in my own apartment!” She enjoyed her community life at Mountain Park where she looked forward to each day within her community singing songs, playing games, riding the bus to church and ballgames, and sharing/relating to each others lives. “Miss Match” as she became known because of her dressing in perfectly matched outfits from head to toe, loved the staff at Mountain Park and their attention given to the residents!

At the end of her life, at Mountain Park, she found a soul mate, Mike who cared for her, laughed with her, drank root beer with her, watching her Suns, Cardinals, and Diamondbacks (and Mike’s Yankees and UConn WBB). He enjoyed her company and just made mom feel special. We cannot thank God enough for bringing Mike into her life.

Carmen’s two children were her pride and joy. Raising Frances and David as a single mother, she put her life into being the best mother one could be. As one student once told a young Frances during a visit to her mother’s class, “we were lucky because although she was their teacher, you have her as your mother.”

Due to the COVID-19, services were held privately per the guidelines in place. We plan to celebrate our mother’s life at a future date once it is possible.

There are so many people to thank, many of you touched our hearts and were a big part of Carmen’s life. Her life of service to her fellow persons was equally met with love and thanks. Her eighty-eight years seem so short but were filled with an abundant life!

In lieu of flowers, we invite you to support some causes dear to Carmen. A scholarship fund named for her sister, the Dr. Frances Y. Amabisca Scholarship for Avondale Schools and Andre House for her priests who were a big part of her life.




Funeral Home
Holy Cross Catholic Funeral Home
9925 West Thomas road
Avondale, Arizona U.S 85392