When Josefina (Josie) Alvarez celebrates her 100th birthday later this month, it will also be a celebration of the state’s history and education.
Born Josefina Ocampo Quesada Feb. 20, 1920, Alvarez is the daughter and granddaughter of Wickenburg pioneers. Her parents were Jose and Francisca Ocampo Quesada and her grandfather was Teodoro Ocampo, who settled in Wickenburg in 1860.
She grew up in a family that emphasized education. Her family gave the Teodoro Ocampo and Mariano R. Ocampo Collection to the Chicano/A Research Collection, ASU Library in 1998.
Reading books was a valuable tool that she used for learning. She enjoyed reading from an early age, and it became one of her favorite hobbies. She believes reading is one of the most important aspects of education, and it has changed her life.
She attended the Red Elementary School House and Wickenburg High School. Years later, after the Quesada family moved to Tempe, Alvarez worked at Arizona State Teachers College. Here is where she met Joseph Alvarez, fell in love, and got married. Years later they moved to Santa Monica, Calif., where she accomplished 24 years of service at UCLA as an influential student adviser and retired from the position of director of academic counseling and recruitment.
When the couple retired in 1982; they moved to Payson. Her lifelong interest in education continued and she was appointed to a position on the State Board of Directors of Community Colleges.
“I feel for the young people because today it is very important to be well informed and prepared. Education doesn’t stop at graduation,” she said.
“Education is the key to everything. If you don’t have it, you have missed a lot.”
Joseph Alvarez passed away in 2003, but Alvarez continues to live in Payson. Although she has vision difficulties, she enjoys listening to the radio, television, and audio books.
Family and friends, which include her sister Alice, 97, will celebrate with Alvarez at noon, Saturday, Feb. 22 at El Rancho.