The Photo Request has been fulfilled.


Evelyne Marie Lobo Villegas

San Juan Capistrano, Orange County, California, USA
Death 15 Apr 1994 (aged 69)
Mission Viejo, Orange County, California, USA
Burial San Juan Capistrano, Orange County, California, USA
Memorial ID 184665627 · View Source
Suggest Edits

Services Pending for San Juan Matriarch Evelyne Lobo Villegas

April 17, 1994

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO — Services will be held this week for Evelyne Marie Lobo Villegas, a Juaneno who was crowned the "Matriarch of San Juan Capistrano" two years ago. She died Friday at age 69 after suffering a stroke.

A descendant of a family that lived in the area before the arrival of the Spaniards in 1769, Villegas was one of eight children born to John Edward and Esperanza Lobo. Her brother was Clarence Lobo, the chief of the Juaneno Indian Band who died in 1985.

As matriarch, an honorary title bestowed for life by the San Juan Capistrano Historical Society, Villegas for the past three years led the traditional procession of children with town "Patriarch" Paul Arbiso, 97, to signal the first sighting of the returning swallows in San Juan Capistrano in March.

Though she was not the oldest woman of Native American descent in San Juan Capistrano, Villegas was selected by the historical society for her dedication to Juaneno causes and to the community.

Villegas lived in the same house her family has owned for seven generations in the Los Rios section of San Juan Capistrano, which is considered the oldest continuously inhabited community in California.

"She personifies the Juaneno Indian pride," said San Juan Capistrano Councilman Gil Jones, who had known Villegas for 15 years. "She's one of the reasons we have a historic district" in San Juan Capistrano, he said, referring to her work to preserve historic adobes and traditional homes.

Family members said she suffered the stroke on April 6, while she was giving a presentation on Juaneno life to a group of children. She remained unconscious at Mission Hospital Regional Medical Center in Mission Viejo until her death.

Villegas spent her entire life in San Juan Capistrano and worked as a schoolteacher for the Capistrano Unified School District for 23 years.

"It's ironic and almost appropriate that she was doing what she loved most, teaching, when she fell ill," Jones said.

Villegas had three children and five grandchildren, with another grandchild on the way, family members said. Intensely proud of her heritage and her city, Villegas helped anthropologists research the Juaneno tribe's obscure language by providing old family writings she had kept since childhood.

Because of Villegas' efforts, the Lord's Prayer was recited in the ancient language, Acagchemem, in Mission San Juan Capistrano in 1992--believed to be the first time it had been recited in that tongue since the mission was built in 1776.

Villegas' daughter, Valerie A. Cordes, said her mother enjoyed being around children and telling them about her Juaneno background.

"She was proud of what she was," said Cordes, 37. "She accepted everybody the way they were, and she would never try to hide who she was."

Jones said Villegas meant so much to the community that the city is likely to memorialize her officially.

Villegas is survived by her husband of 49 years, Salvador, 73, and their children Joseph, Valerie and Mark. She is also survived by brothers Robert Lobo and Harley (Wick) Lobo, and sisters Marguerite Lobo and Viola Brown.

A vigil for Villegas will be held at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Serra Chapel at Mission San Juan Capistrano, and the funeral will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday in the same chapel. She will be buried in the old mission cemetery off Ortega Highway, where services will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday.

Family Members




  • Created by: Lesa Pfrommer
  • Added: 27 Oct 2017
  • Find A Grave Memorial 184665627
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Evelyne Marie Lobo Villegas (2 Jul 1924–15 Apr 1994), Find A Grave Memorial no. 184665627, citing Old Mission Cemetery, San Juan Capistrano, Orange County, California, USA ; Maintained by Lesa Pfrommer (contributor 46527276) .