Francisco (Pancho) Hidalgo Ontiveros or better known to his grandchildren, “Grandpa, Papa and Didi,” peacefully passed away on April 22, 2023 at the age of 90 at MountainView Regional Medical Center in Las Cruces, NM.
Frank was born on October 4, 1932 in Montoya, Texas to Jose and Josefa Ontiveros. He was the 2nd oldest in his family and grew up in Las Cruces, NM along with his 3 brothers and 3 sisters. He graduated a year early from Las Cruces High School in 1949. After high school, he joined the US Air Force where he was stationed at Manston Air Force Base in Kent, England. It is there he met the love of his life, June Rose. The two were married on May 16, 1953 in England. They started their life there, until February 1954 when they left by boat to come to the United States. Once back in Las Cruces, and with the help of his father and brothers, the family home was built where they raised 7 children. Frank, now discharged from the US Air Force, started working at White Sands Missile Range in late 1954 as a photographer. In May of 1975 and December of 1979, his photos of rockets made the front cover of the Aviation Week and Space Technology magazine. One of the most memorable moments in Frank’s career was the time when he photographed the Shuttle Columbia for NASA when it landed at White Sands. His love for photography grew as well as his career. He retired from WSMR in 1989 as the Chief of Pictorial. After he retired, he enjoyed telling stories about his days as a photographer, the TDY trips he made and the people he met along the way. He, along with his wife and children enjoyed trips to England to visit family.
He was a member of the Catholic Church and a parishioner of Holy Cross Church, where he served as a communion minister for many years. He also volunteered as a “Money Counter” on Monday mornings at the church, where he was the only man in attendance. As time went on, Frank found the jail ministry that he devoted his time to. It is this ministry where he found the most joy. He would share communion and the word of God with those he visited. Everyone knew that Wednesday was Frank’s “Jail Day,” as he called it. He was featured in an article in the Agua Viva regarding this ministry, and as a “Thank you,” for his volunteer work at the jail, met President George W. Bush on a stop in Las Cruces. Every evening you could find Frank watching Jeopardy followed by Wheel of Fortune or “Vanna White” as he would say. Everyone knew not to call or bother him while these game shows were on, and he was not shy in letting you know you needed to call him back. During the day, you could find him watching court TV shows, game shows or shows about nature. He enjoyed his bowl of ice cream after dinner and loved his red enchiladas. Before walking became a little slower, Friday nights were all about Mayfield football. He could be found at the games commentating and announcing what the next play was going to be while sitting on the bleachers. He continued the tradition his wife started of putting green sheets on his bed to bring the team good luck. Frank had a big sense of humor and loved to make jokes.
Most of all, he loved his family who he would do anything for. His grandchildren were the light of his life in which his infamous reciting to them would be, “ I love you, a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck.” He was deeply loved and will be greatly missed.
Frank is survived by his brother Rudy Ontiveros (Isabel) and sister Rosie Barela of Las Cruces, NM. Children Tina Moore (Jim) of Las Cruces, William Ontiveros (Joy) of Cedar Crest, Ricky Ontiveros (Maddie) of Las Cruces, Paul Ontiveros (Margaret) of Las Cruces, Scott Yurcic (Laurie-deceased) of Las Cruces Kathy Balch (Jay) of Janesville, WI and Jennifer Holman (Lawrence) of Las Cruces. He leaves behind 11 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren, 2 great-great grandchildren and numerous nephews, nieces, and cousins. He is preceded in death by his wife, June Ontiveros, daughter Laurie Yurcic, grandson Jonathon Ontiveros, grandsons Desmond and Deshaun Holman, brothers Santiago, Edward and Albert Ontiveros, and sisters Alicia Ontiveros, Isabel Benavidez and Minnie Lujan.
Visitation will be held on Monday, May 15, 2023 at 5pm at Getz Funeral Home, followed by a Rosary service at 6pm. A funeral mass officiated by Father Richard Catanach and Monsignor John Anderson will be held at Holy Cross Church on May 16th at 9:30am followed by a burial service at Hillcrest Cemetery. Pallbearers are Nat Moore, Chris Johnston, Donovan Ponce, Daniel Ontiveros, Trevor Yurcic and Cedric Holman.
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