On Friday, October 15, 2021, Maria Carmen Pascoe – loving wife, mother of two children, and friend to everyone she knew – passed away at the age of 91.
Carmen was born on August 7, 1930 in Madrid, Spain to Manuel and Dolores Salas-Cornejo. The second of nine children, she was the eldest of the four siblings who survived the turbulent Spanish Civil War of 1936-39.
As a young woman, she was a member of the Madrid Aquatic Ballet team.
She received a medical degree and served as a registered nurse and certified midwife, with more than 150 successful births to her credit, and then became a physician’s assistant.
In the mid 1950s, she was studying English, so she could go to the United States to study medicine. Outside her language school, she met a young American man who would become the love of her life, as she became the love of his. On August 27, 1955, the two were married. For the next 24,156 days, the two were inseparable.
Shortly thereafter, she left Spain behind and began a new life as a young newlywed in the Washington, D.C. area.
After working for a time as a secretary at a local magazine – where she tried, gamely but unsuccessfully, to sell a subscription to Normandie Cups by starting a solicitation letter, “Dear Mr. Cups” – she went to work as a Spanish language instructor at a local language school whose founder and leader had taught Spanish to Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Later, she moved her language instruction skills to the U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Service Institute (FSI), where she spent the next 38 years teaching American ambassadors and diplomats to Spanish-speaking countries how to speak her native tongue. After retiring from FSI, she continued to teach privately. She loved her calling, and believed that with the opportunity to work with so many different people, from so many different backgrounds, she learned as much from her students as they did from her.
Along the way, she found time to mother two children and three very joyful dogs, all of whom loved her very much.
Perhaps most importantly, she found a way to keep well fed, well tended to, and just downright happy for 66 years her husband, who already misses her sorely.
Carmen was the belle of every ball, the life of every party, and the unstoppable force in the life of everyone she knew. She did not see people she did not know as “strangers,” she viewed them merely as friends she had not yet met.
At a going-away party for a close family friend who happened to be a senior White House official, she noticed a tall man enter and then stand alone in the center of the room, as the rest of the guests remained crowded around the bar. Determined to welcome the new entrant to the party, she made a beeline for him – and found herself spinning yarns with President Reagan.
Her Thanksgiving dinner table always had an extra spot or two to make sure her children could bring home strays – including, one year, an Angolan rebel freedom fighter.
Carmen was preceded in death by her father, Manuel; her mother, Dolores; and six siblings. She is survived by her husband, Bill; her children, Bill and Yvonne; her son-in-law, Peter; her sisters Maria Pilar and Maria Teresa; her brother-in-law, David; her grandchildren, Clay and Ellie; and three nieces and three nephews.
A remembrance service will be held on Wednesday, October 27 from 4-6 PM, with family members making remarks at 4:30 PM. The service will be held at the Everly-Wheatley Funeral Home at 1500 W. Braddock Rd, Alexandria, VA 22302. (703) 998-9200. Flowers may be sent to the funeral home.
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