(Maria) Thelma Vargas Egan was born at home in the Penasco Lumber Camp in the forests and mountains located around Cloudcroft, New Mexico. Her father, Miguel Vargas, worked for a lumber company and her mother, Rafaela Velasquez Vargas, was a housewife. During the Great Depression, the family moved to El Paso, Texas where Thelma attended the Lydia Patterson Institute, a school established to teach Spanish-speaking children, as El Paso did not provide education for other than English-speaking students. Although born in the United States, she spoke only Spanish until her late teens. She became fully bilingual, but enjoyed using her Spanish-speaking skills. The family moved to the Los Angeles area at the beginning of World War II, where she became a "Rosie the Riveter" building Lockheed P-38s. She once described the P-38 as "such a sexy airplane." In later life she enjoyed going to airshows and seeing other aircraft. She also described those years as her happiest, when she and her sister, Micaela, went dancing most weekends at the USO. Although those were happy times for her, she also was widowed twice by the age of 22 and left to raise two sons, Robert Nunez and William Johnson, on her own. A third marriage would end in divorce but deliver her last child, Dianne Egan. Thelma was a hard worker and instilled in her children that it was important to be independent and stand on your own two feet.
Thelma moved around to several States but eventually returned to her beloved California, where she lived in Santa Maria until moving to Virginia in 2001 to live with her daughter and son-in-law. She lived with them until 2017, when she moved into assisted living. She was loved by the staff at the Hermitage of Northern VA for being easy going and expressing her gratitude for kindnesses and care provided. She loved the sing-along sessions and knew the words to all the old standards. Thelma also loved watching old films on Turner Classic Movies and could entertain you with stories about the actors. Her daughter will miss sitting with her watching those and Hallmark Christmas movies. She also loved parties and especially celebrating her 99th birthday in September. She also enjoyed going on many travels.
Thelma passed away without pain and in peace. She is survived by her daughter and son-in-law, Dianne and Robert Bobowski; her grandchildren Esperanza Nunez Pope, Raphael Nunez and Emily Johnson. She's also survived by a niece and nephews. Her grandchild Elizabeth Johnson pre-deceased her as did her sons and beloved Dale Dean.
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