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Oscar Florez

A Memorial Mass is scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 9, at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church for Oscar Florez of Artesia.

Florez, 69, passed away Friday, July 27, 2018, surrounded by loved ones at the Veterans’ Hospital in Albuquerque after a lengthy, hard-fought battle with cancer.

A rosary will be recited at 9 a.m. Thursday at Our Lady of Grace. Inurnment and Honor Guard services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, Aug. 10, at the Veterans’ Cemetery located within South Park Cemetery in Roswell. Entrance is from the west side off of South Main Street.

Oscar entered this world Dec. 19, 1948, in Artesia, the son of Luis and Pilar Florez. He was a 1966 graduate of Artesia High School and excelled in the music program. He attended the College of Artesia for two years before enlisting in the U.S. Army in 1968.

He fought in the Vietnam War, receiving several medals, including the Meritorious Commendation, National Defense, Vietnam Campaign, Army Good Conduct Medal, and the Purple Heart for service to his country. He also performed with the U.S. Army Band.

After receiving an Honorable Discharge from the military, Oscar returned to Artesia and was employed by AMOCO Production Company. He volunteered much of his off-duty time in coaching several championship-caliber youth softball teams. After several years in Artesia, he returned to school at New Mexico State University, where he received his certificate in welding fabrication.

Oscar was employed by Lockheed Company at White Sands Missile Range and assisted with the “Star Wars” Laser Technology program. He worked on several space shuttle missions with the backup landing emergency team. During this time, he was a member of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) post, serving as vice-commander of the Las Cruces VWF post from 1985 until his return to Artesia in 1995.

He worked for Nova Bus (Roswell Airport) for a few years as a research and development technician. After the plant closed, Oscar was employed by the Chaves County Detention Center as maintenance manager for a short period. He left Chaves County to work for Moreno Electric in Artesia until 2015, when he retired.

Oscar was a virtuoso in music, having mastered percussion equipment, including guitar, bass, drums and vocals. He started several musical groups in Las Cruces and Artesia, including the Fire One Up and Picante Bands. The latter was comprised of family members. His bands performed free of charge at numerous fundraising efforts for disabled veterans. He was an avid sportsman and outfitter, and guided several pack trips into the Gila Wilderness.

Survivors include his dear friend and caregiver Shirley Pruitt; daughters Jennifer Kitt Florez of Artesia, Sara Brieanne Sanchez and husband Gilbert of Albuquerque, and Linde Brown of Tucson, Ariz.; sisters Lupe Flores of Midland, Texas, and Julia Huerta and Connie Holmes and husband Jess, both of Artesia; brothers Abel Florez and wife Jodi of Deming, and Manuel Florez and wife Camille, Luis Florez and wife Aida, and Edward Florez and wife Sonia, all of Artesia; grandchildren Tomas Lujan and Aliyanna Sanchez, both of Albuquerque, and Aubree Lynn Brown of Tucson; and numerous nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents.