Elaine Anaya served as New Mexico’s first lady in the early and mid-1980s, but she preferred weaving, crafting and creating to the contact sport of politics.

Her husband, Toney, was elected governor in 1982, and Elaine Anaya used her role as first lady to promote museums and early education. She died of cancer at 78 on Nov. 9 in her Santa Fe home.

Family members described her as a strong person with a modest manner.

“She was very quiet, very calm. She had a certain demeanor about her that was disarming, but she set the rules down, and I followed them,” Toney Anaya said Tuesday.

He said of politics: “It was always in my blood.” It wasn’t in his wife’s. When Anaya was governor, he said he assured her he wouldn’t run again for office.

“But she always supported me,” he said. “We were a complete package together.”

Her interests included kids, grandkids, weaving, sewing, ceramics, crafts and making silver and turquoise jewelry. She sold real estate and supported organizations that assist people in various forms of crisis, such as The Life Link and La Luz.

She wanted young children to have access to early education, and as first lady also worked to have mothballed museum pieces and artifacts displayed in state office buildings, nonprofit organizations and other places.

“She liked to dabble in a lot of things,” said daughter Kimberly Anaya of Albuquerque. “She was always getting into something creative.”

Toney Anaya said he and Elaine met when they worked in Washington, D.C., for the U.S. Department of Labor. She had grown up in Hanover, Pa., and he in Moriarty.

“It didn’t take long for her to stand out in my eyes,” Toney Anaya said.

Their marriage lasted 58 years until her death.



Elaine Anaya grew to appreciate New Mexico. Her weavings often had a New Mexico flair to them, Kimberly Anaya said. “Man, she could cook New Mexican food,” she said.

“She fell in love with New Mexico,” Toney Anaya said. He said whenever he talked with her about a chance for him to take an appointed position in Washington, D.C., she discouraged it “because she adopted New Mexico, and she wanted to stay here.”

Carol Luna-Anderson, director of the Life Link Training Institute, said Elaine Anaya advocated for those who are homeless, struggling with behavioral health problems, or victims of domestic violence or human trafficking.

“She represented all strata of populations here,” Luna-Anderson said. “Lots of things gave her pleasure. … It was great watching her interacting with folks.”

As a mother, she didn’t hold backher opinions, Kimberly Anaya said. She said her mother at times would advise, “You really need to lower the hammer” on one of her kids.

She made clothing for her children when they were young. “She always had an eye for fashion, and she would never hesitate to tell you if something didn’t look right,” Kimberly Anaya said.

Toney Anaya, 80, who was elected the state’s attorney general before he became governor, said he still practices some law.

He has dealt with glaucoma and failing eyesight. His wife required supplemental oxygen.

Kimberly Anaya said her parents supported each other in their maladies. They moved along on outings, the daughter said, her father carrying his wife’s portable oxygen container and placing one hand on his wife’s shoulder as she led the way.

She is survived by Toney Anaya of Santa Fe; daughters Kimberly Anaya and Kristina Bibb, both of Santa Fe; son Toney Anaya Jr. of New Jersey; and sister Phyllis Hicks of McSherrystown, Pa. She had 13 grandchildren, and Bibb’s daughter was expected to have Toney and Elaine Anaya’s first great-grandchild Wednesday.

The family has set up a memorial fund at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., in Elaine Anaya’s name.

(2) comments

Lee Vigil

Rest In Peace, Elaine. Vaya con Dios.

Prince Michael Jauregui

My condolences to the family, friends and loved-ones of Elaine Anaya. Plainly, she was a strong and caring individual. May The Lord rest her soul.

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