Hearts Love 25
Official Obituary of

Inez Ontiveroz

April 20, 1934 ~ February 24, 2024 (age 89) 89 Years Old
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Inez Ontiveroz Obituary

Inez Ortiz Ontiveroz, known as "Teacher Inez" to generations of North Big Horn County children, died peacefully February 24, 2024, at North Big Horn Hospital, surrounded by her loving family. She was 89.

Inez was born April 20, 1934, in Crystal City, Texas, the eldest of 11 children of Concepcion Ortiz and Severiana Contreras. Her family traveled to Lovell in 1941 to work the beet fields. The family remained in Lovell, and her father got a job as a sheep herder with Crosby farms and then with Burlington Northern Railroad.

The family initially lived in the section house at the northern edge of town. As a teenager, Inez lived with her maternal grandmother in Billings while she worked at St. Vincent Hospital.

In early fall of 1954, Inez met the love of her life, Milton Ontiveroz, whose family worked the local sugar beet fields. After a whirlwind romance of just one month, they were married October 30, 1954. Their romance lasted 68½ years and produced seven children.

As a devoted Catholic, wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, Inez never failed to advocate for the success of her children. Her siblings held her in high regard.

Local folks loved her homemade tortillas and tacos. Her leadership and tacos were at the heart of the annual fundraising dinner for St. Joseph’s Catholic Church that was always a huge success.

Inez was a stay-at-home mother until she enrolled her daughter, Alicia, in Head Start. She started as a volunteer for Head Start in 1965, one year after the program’s inception nationwide. Inez was hired as a cook, but she soon showed her ability to work with children and was promoted to a teacher’s aide.

She earned her GED and began taking college courses while working at Head Start. She would study at the kitchen table late into the night, earning an associate degree from Northwest College in early childhood education.

Inez earned a promotion to program director, a position she held for 25 years. During her remarkable career, she was named Head Start Teacher of the Year for both Wyoming and for the eight-state region that included Wyoming. Winning the regional honor made her a finalist for the national honor.

After retiring, Inez served on the Absaroka Head Start Board of Directors and, in total, her career with Head Start spanned 49 years. She was inducted into Head Start’s Hall of Fame for her lengthy service to the program. Her name is on a plaque in the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas.

A former parent, now a nurse's aide who cared for her recently at the Lovell hospital, commented that Inez modeled for Head Start parents how to get their children to behave and learn, a further tribute to her lasting impact on the lives of the children and their families.

Inez also worked for many years during the summer as a teacher/administrator for the Migrant School Program, which she helped found with DeVere Hinckley. She loved children, loved to see them thrive, especially those who needed it the most.

Inez also served on the Ethics Committee of North Big Horn Hospital for 17 years.

Inez was preceded in death by her husband, Milton Ontiveroz; parents Conception Ortiz and Severiana Contreras; children Enrique Tomas Ontiveroz and Alicia Gomez; siblings Margarita Espinoza, Julie (Stefana) Parah, Lucia Guadalupe Escalante, Socorro Sarah Ortiz, Rufina (Ruth) Montanez and Antonio Marcos “Tony” Ortiz.

She is survived by her siblings, Guadalupe Hernandez of Powell, Mary Alvarez of Laurel, Montana, Conception Ortiz Jr. of Las Vegas, Nevada, and Catherine Ortiz of Cheyenne; children Cecilia (Bruce) Moats of Superior, Montana, Milton (Liz) Ontiveroz Jr. of Laramie, Anna (Tom) Fink of Lovell, Miguel (Becky) Ontiveroz of Lovell and Victoria (Brian) Welan of San Antonio, Texas; grandchildren Joseph Moats, Thea Moats, Shelby Happe, Alexis Ontiveroz, AAron Ontiveroz, Austin Ontiveroz, Cole Fink, Ely Fink, Kiana Wagner, Rhiannon Ontiveroz, Mikee Keith, Adreanne Ontiveroz, Scott Ontiveroz, Kyle Ontiveroz, Corina Soto and Clarissa Soto. Additionally, the newest generation of her family includes 15 great-grandchildren, Jordan, Alyson, Jaxx, Noa, Kaiden, Amelia, Olivia, Koehn, Kordell, Salma, Max, Cheyenne, Noah, Weston and Elise, that will know and carry on her legacy.

There will be a rosary Friday, April 19, at 6 p.m., with Funeral Mass Saturday, April 20, at 10 a.m., which would have been her 90th birthday, both taking place at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Lovell.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in her name to either St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, 1141 Shoshone Avenue, or New Horizons Care Center, 1115 Lane 12, both in Lovell.

Cremation has taken place.

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Recitation of the Rosary
April 19, 2024

6:00 PM
St. Joseph's Catholic Church
1141 Shoshone Avenue
Lovell, Wyoming 82431

Funeral Mass
April 20, 2024

10:00 AM
St. Joseph's Catholic Church
1141 Shoshone Avenue
Lovell, Wyoming 82431

Interment of Cremains following Services
April 20, 2024

Lovell Cemetery
1123 Lane 13
Lovell, Wyoming 82431


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