Gracias Margarita

We want to remember the life of a dear friend, Margarita Camacho Torres, who passed away last year and would have celebrated her birthday this month. Margarita passed away on April 25th, 2014 from complications following a routine bladder operation. She worked at Casa de los Amigos from 1983 to 2011 as a key member of the Casa’s cleaning team, and her life is part of the legacy of service and peacework in Mexico by the Cova Torres family. Margarita was a much loved Casa presence to generations of guests and volunteers.

Margarita was born at home on July 20, 1941, in Santorum, Tlaxcala, to Gerardo Camacho and Porfiria Torres. Gerardo was a master builder, and Porfiria raised their seven children.

At 16, Margarita married Dionisio Cova, who stole her from her parents’ home hidden under a sarape. Margarita worked in a doctor’s office while raising her and Dionisio’s six children: Cirilo, Lucio, Paula, Marcela, Candida and Vicki. In 1982, Margarita and her family moved to Mexico City, where three years earlier her sister Rosita had settled and begun to work at Casa de los Amigos. The next year, while Rosita lived in one of the small apartments on the Casa roof, Margarita came to join the Casa team.

Margarita’s husband Dionisio was the first cousin of Rogelio Cova Torres, a visionary activist who led the Casa in a flourishing period of social justice work, including many programs in their native Tlaxcala. Rogelio helped Margarita and her family move to the capital and housed them in a student housing building that he also maintained. Rogelio looked after them. “He never left our side,” Margarita’s daughters remember. Rogelio left the Casa in 1984 and founded the organization Sedepac, which continued to organize Quaker-run international workcamps in Mexico for another two decades.

In the mid-1980s, Rosita and Margarita would frequently accompany groups of workcampers to the projects in Tlaxco and Vicente Guerrero in Tlaxcala, where they would cook for the volunteers. All of Margarita’s children would come and participate, and they have fond memories of those workcamps, helping build and repair roads with rocks they would carry from the riverbed in Tlaxco. A partial list of Cova Torres family members who have worked at the Casa and on Casa projects includes Margarita and her uncle Rogelio, Margarita’s sisters Rosita, Gregoria and Candida, her nephew Cirilo, her own daughters Paula, Vicki and Marce, and her niece Cristina.

Margarita’s daughters remember her as a relaxed person, always ready to chat and joke around, always friendly, and always ready to “ofrecer un taco.” She never liked to see anyone go hungry and, all her life, would buy extra food “just in case someone turns up.” Her family says that the Casa was very important to her, and she loved to be part of it. After she retired she would still come over and water the plants. Margarita will always be fondly remembered by those who knew here at the Casa. She was a very sweet person and easily made friends with guests and new volunteers, making them feel at home. Good-natured and unassuming, she could also be quite funny when she wanted to. She was a joy to see each day, and always had time to say hello and trade a joke. Her tinga de pollo on tostadas was, for many of us, the best thing that we have ever eaten.

We loved Margarita so much, we do not have words to describe her role in the life of the Casa community. We would like to ask all of you to view the slideshow using this link: aquí.