Mr. Ignatius “Nacho” Iniguez, 91, of Phoenix, Arizona passed away on January 27, 2024. He was born in Chicago, Illinois on July 11, 1932. He was preceded by his parents, Guadalupe and Christina Vasquez Iniguez; his wife, Mary Iniguez; and by all of his siblings.
He is survived by his daughter, Doreen (Jerry) Phillips of Woodbury; granddaughters, Melissa (Mike) Kelly and Heather (Jeffery) Lorance both of Woodbury; great grandchildren, Ross Lorance, JoLeana Lorance, Jessa Lorance, and Jericho Lorance; a niece and nephew, Tami (Russ) Bontrager of New Mexico and Michael Young of Texas; close friends, Ling Bunngared and Paul Wondra; as well many friends at his apartment complex.
Whether you knew him as Ignatius, Nacho, or Grandpa, knowing him was a special treat. Living 91 years sounds like a long time to most of us, but he still managed to pack a lot of living into it. You could rest assured he wasn’t going to be sitting around. Whatever he focused on was going to get his full energy and attention. After leaving school, he decided to join the Army, and as you might imagine, he didn’t do it halfway.
Right off the bat, Nacho set his sights on becoming an Army Ranger and achieved the rank of 1st Sgt. As a Ranger during the Vietnam War, he was tasked with some dangerous missions, but that didn’t phase him. One of their tactics for engaging the enemy was rappelling from a helicopter, but when it was time to disengage, he quickly learned to hang on tight. The helicopter carried them to a safe zone to resupply and prepare for the next mission. During some of the engagements, Nacho injured his knees, but he didn’t let that slow him down.
While in the Army, Nacho got training to work in mechatronics as a value engineer on a project with the FA-18 fighter jet engine. This must not have presented him with enough adrenaline for his liking because his next adventure led him into police work with the Chicago Police Department. He worked his way through the ranks into one the more dangerous and interesting assignments with the department as an undercover officer. On the lighter side of the assignment, it opened the door to meeting his future wife, Mary. They must have been kindred spirits because she was also assigned to work as an undercover officer. Oh, the stories they could have told, but they kept their work a closely guarded secret to protect each other and their family.
Nacho’s character and nature throughout life was to never back down from whatever he faced. It wasn’t a good idea to wind up on his bad side, but on the flip side of that coin was the fact that he was an example of a perfect gentleman to his wife, Mary, waiting on her hand and foot. His granddaughters took special note of how he treated a lady to help guide them to select the right partner for themselves, and Nacho set the bar high. He had the loving, teddy-bear personality down pat but also took great joy in poking fun at family and friends to keep things stirred up. Nevertheless, there was very little Nacho took more seriously than his role as a protector and provider.
When Mary’s health situation warranted a move to a drier climate and a slower pace, they decided to put down roots in Phoenix. He landed a job at his apartment complex as the manager. This way, he was able to be close to Mary at home so she would have the care and attention she needed. It worked out to be a great fit for him apparently because he stayed working for the complex for the next 45 years. He didn’t factor in a retirement for himself, but that suited him fine. He still managed to make time for the important things in life — God, family, friends, and country.
When he wanted to have a good time, he and a friend, Steve, would make their way down to the casino for an afternoon battling the “one-armed bandits.” If that didn’t tickle his fancy, he would head down to the shooting range to poke a few holes in some targets. His most treasured of pastimes was spending time with his granddaughters and great grandchildren. He spoke fluent Spanish, and they loved for him to share some interesting words or phrases. They hung on to his every word when he would share a glimpse of his past adventures. When they came to town, he would treat them to a meal out at one of his favorite Chinese or Mexican restaurants for good and great stories. One of their highlight trips was being taken to the Grand Canyon and Sedona for the day.
His daughter and granddaughters all believed he was a true hero and gentleman, but he didn’t want them to think he was too perfect. He would tell them he had to do some bad things in his life, believing that he may not be forgiven for these things. His granddaughter, Heather, kept sharing her faith and the belief that God through Christ can forgive all our sins. After one of their conversations, he told her, “I don’t care what anybody says. I’m trusting God.” Letting her know he had finally put his faith fully into believing he could be forgiven for anything in the past. His family had the assurance his soul would be safely offered the grace and mercy we may all enjoy.
As his final adventure, he elected to donate his body to science so someone else may be helped through those studies. The family will hold a memorial service at a later date. Share memories and condolences with them at www.gentrysmithfuneralhome.com Gentry-Smith Funeral Home, 303 Murfreesboro Rd. Woodbury, TN 37190, 615-563-5337. Because every life has a story.