Maria Elena Kuri Cañas passed away peacefully in her Phoenix home on March 8. Maria was born in the tiny town of Talamantes, Chihuahua, Mexico on January 15, 1935, to Virginia and Teofilo Kuri. Maria’s husband, Ismael Cañas, and daughter Maggie Cañas preceded Maria in death in 2013 and 2021 respectively.
While Ismael Cañas was on vacation from Texas as a young man, he fell in love at first sight with the most beautiful girl in the village, while Maria was meeting the love of her life. The couple were married on March 6, 1954, and they soon moved to Cozad, Nebraska, to start a family.
In March 1962, Maria became a US Citizen and tested so well that she soon assisted others in citizenship study. Maria worked at the school cafeteria and became renowned for her tacos. She would later feature those tacos at the family-run restaurant The Dairy Sweet.
Ismael and Maria moved to Phoenix in October of 1980. Maria started a long career in food service first at the Donut Peddler located at Thomas Mall and then at Sky Harbor Airport. In 2014, she celebrated her 25th anniversary with Host Marriott. She was known for befriending fellow employees and welcoming strangers flying in and out of Phoenix.
Maria will be remembered for her open heart and warm smile. Even while coping with health issues in recent years, she found comfort listening to music and singing along.
Survivors include her adult children, who gladly provided round-the-clock care for Maria during her last years: Izzy Cañas, Jr., (fiancé, Cynthia), Anna Maria Cañas-Lowe (Reggie Lowe), Annabelia Boyles (Bob Boyles), Amelia Cañas, all of Phoenix, and Jose Luis Cañas (Jaason Gregorovious) of Las Vegas.
Maria was very proud of her grandchildren: Mario Cañas of Phoenix and Mozart Rentana of Anchorage, AK, and the Lowe family of Reggie Jr., Joseph, and Lillye of Phoenix, and Christian Ruvalcaba.
Maria’s first great grandchild, Alayna Victoria, parented by Mario Cañas and Stephanie Berman, was born on August 1 of last year.
A Mass will be celebrated at 10:00 A.M. on Friday, March 24, 2023 at St. Theresa Catholic Church, 5045 East Thomas Road in Phoenix. Maria Elena will be laid to rest with her husband Ismael at St. Francis Catholic Cemetery.