BELEN—Lifelong Belen resident and career educator Dolores Maria Quintana, affectionately known as Lola or Ms. Q, died Wednesday, Aug. 26. She was 83.
Quintana was dedicated to the Belen Consolidated Schools, working as a teacher for 40 years, as a coach, driver’s education teacher, a director of transportation and a Belen Board of Education member for 14 years.
She was also a volunteer at Our Lady of Belen Catholic Church, guiding youth by teaching Catechism.
Described as devout, honest, an advocate for children and a pillar of the community, Quintana’s daughter, Margaret Green, said she didn’t realize how many people’s lives her mother had touched until this week.
“She was loved by the whole community,” Green said. “I am so grateful to everybody who helped me out.”
As a child, Quintana was a skilled in athlete, a bit of a “tom boy,” friends say, but because women’s athletics weren’t offered by schools at that time, she rarely had the chance to participate or compete.
Former Belen High School principal Ron Hodges said he’d known Quintana since 1951.
“We grew up together and when I was an assistant principal and principal, she was on staff teaching biology,” Hodges said.
As children, Hodges remembers Quintana playing sports with the boys her age in Belen.
“She was a better athlete than 70 percent of the boys at that time but there was no girls athletics in the schools,” he said. “If there had been, she would have been right there, playing softball and baseball. Her father was a baseball player and she grew up in sports.
“If we were choosing up sides as kids, I guarantee she wasn’t the last one picked.”
That love for athletics never faded, and Green says not only was Quintana her mother but her coach as well.
“It was her and Mrs. (Joanne) Romero. She started girls volleyball and Mom started softball,” she said.
Quintana also coached girls basketball, taking the team all the way to state in the late 1970s, where the Eagles claimed the spot of runner up in the tournament.
Belen Board of Education President Jim Danner knew Quintana since the age of 10.
“She affected many lives in a very positive way,” Danner said. “She loved Belen and she loved the Belen schools.”
Calling her relationship with the late Ms. Q “interesting,” Belen Consolidated Schools Superintendent Diane Vallejos remembers when Quintana taught at the high school.
“And when I went to Highlands, she went there to pursue her master’s degree in science,” Vallejos said. “Ms. Q and my dad graduated from St. Mary’s together. She was a really, really good person and always wanted what was best for the kids.
“It wasn’t just the schools; she was an incredible member of the community. When my father passed away, she volunteered to do the readings for us because she knew it would be too difficult. She was about community in every aspect.”
Green said Quintana was a great mother and grandmother, and loved children as a whole.
“She was all about children, taking care of them at school. When she had lunch duty, she would make sure all the kids got enough to eat,” she said.
A woman who loved her Catholic faith, loved God, prayed a lot and was very devout to the Virgin Mary, was who her mother was, Green said.
“She was so faithful, honest. I know she’ll be watching me up in heaven, my little angel,” she said.
Services for Dolores “Lola” Quintana will be held at Our Lady of Belen Catholic Church on Saturday, Sept. 5, with a visitation beginning at 8:30 a.m., a Rosary to be recited at 9:30 a.m. and a Funeral Mass to be celebrated at 10 a.m. Interment will follow at Our Lady of Belen Memorial Gardens.
Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.