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Ivone Muñoz: Remembrances from friends, co-workers, students

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“She will be missed beyond words.”

— Wendy Boland, RFHS teacher

Sopris Sun Staff Report

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Ivone Munoz, most recently an English Language Learner teacher at Roaring Fork High School, died on Dec. 27 following a long battle with cancer.

Muñoz, 40, was a Carbondale native and mother of four, with an extended family that included her grandmother, parents, brother, sister, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews. Here are some recently compiled remembrances and those included in a Sopris Sun article:

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“I have a single word to describe Ivone: graceful. The way she advocated for her students, made her disagreements known, led her life, accepted her illness, and left this world were done with a grace that few people share.” — Sharon Moya

“Ivone is an incredible advocate for her students both in the school and out in the community. She serves as a surrogate mother, career counselor, legal aid, college admissions officer, nurse practitioner, nutritionist, and, most importantly, trusted friend to all of her students. Ivone is involved in their lives before, during, and after their high school careers, and has been the difference for quite a few of them.” — Cliff Colia, retired principal, Ivone’s substitute teacher

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“Thank you Ivone Muñoz for the life you lived. Your example taught us to persevere and take advantage of that which makes us different … to push through adversity, to have compassion for the misunderstood, and to never underestimate what unity, pride and a voice can do to change the world.” — Alex Alvarado, RFHS graduate

“She always tells the students in her ELL (English Language Learner) class: ‘Never forget your Spanish and where you are from. Those are your roots. And you can succeed no matter where you come from.’” — Omar Gonzalez, RFHS student

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“Ivone has always taken on so much, worked so hard, and given so much of herself to others.” — Patty Bristol, retired teacher

“I have always admired Ivone’s strength of character. She stood up for what she believed in, and she brought people together with grace, humility and optimism.” — Kenny Teitler, CMS teacher

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“Ivone truly was a person who lit up the room with her presence and smile.” — Matt Hamilton, RFSD School Board President

“There are so many things that I admired about Ivone including her indomitable spirit in face of the many challenges she faced in her life.  She was an amazingly strong woman … The image of Ivone that is permanently left in my memory is her enthusiasm and her easy smile … .” — Sue Rollyson, RFHS para-educator

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“Ivone always had a smile on her face, had a heart of gold, and went over and beyond for everyone.” — Grace De La Sala, CMS teacher

“What I remember most about Ivone was her wonderful, spontaneous giggle. When she laughed (and she could find joy and humor in everything), she always made me want to laugh along with her.” — Barb Mason, RFHS assistant principal

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“Ivone impacted the school and community in so many positive ways. She was a true advocate for all students.” — Larry Williams, RFHS teacher

“I had Ivone in class when she was a sophomore … She sat in the front row. I can see her even now. She NEVER missed a day of class. She was so eager, so curious, so focused … And then one day she was absent. I KNEW something was amiss. We all loved her so much that we ‘rallied the forces’ and found out her circumstances and got her to come back to school and petitioned the school board to help her graduate early.” — Bonnie Cretti, retired teacher

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“Ivone was a visionary of what is possible and the most gracious person I have yet to meet. She was never too busy to help someone in need.” — June Fox, teacher

“Not only was Ivone supportive and nurturing to her family and students, she also had a great passion for soccer, which she shared with so many young players. She was always willing to help in any way she could be it coaching, managing, playing, translating forms for the Carbondale Soccer Club and even refereeing.” — Terri & Dave Ritchie

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“I’ve always admired Ivone’s thoughtfulness and passion for the Latino youth in the Roaring Fork Valley to maintain their education through high school and beyond.” — Debbie Martinez, CMC

“Ivone was a true inspiration to all of the students and staff of CMC’s ESL and GED programs throughout the valley. She never stopped thinking about how she could help our students achieve their educational and life goals, and at the same time amazed her colleagues with her unique talent for organizing our extensive grant paperwork. She made everyone’s lives better.” — Virginia Nicolai, CMC professor

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“Ivone bridged our two communities in an extraordinary way …  She was an inspirational educator … help(ing) others stay in school, learn English, and make their mark on the world, just as she did. Ivone had a brain as big as her heart.” — Sue Lavin, CMC teacher

From Ivone’s letter to the community in The Sopris Sun:

“It is difficult to express in words the gratitude I feel for the tidal wave of support my family and I have received as I have struggled with kidney cancer these last few months … There isn’t a day I don’t think about death and how much more relevant it is than it used to be several months ago. But just as present are your acts of kindness, my family, my goals and the wonderful thought of living. This concept of living becomes my focus. A focus on making a difference for others as you have done with me. I will never forget all that you have done … It is with your help and kind gestures that I have gained a better and clearer understanding of how beautiful life truly is. Each day I am learning a new meaning of what it means to live life to the fullest. I thank God for each day I am alive and for the experience of being surrounded by so many beautiful human beings.”

Editor’s note: For the complete obituary, please visit The Sopris Sun website at