Sophie Burden Echeverria recently passed away on November 21, 2018 at her home in Wickenburg. She was surrounded by her family, and her dog and cat.
Her life span of 91 years was filled with one adventure after another. She was born in 1927 to Sophie and Jack Burden in La Jolla, California while her parents were managing a lodge during the summer while away from the Remuda Guest Ranch in Wickenburg, Arizona.
Sophie and her brothers, John and Dana, were raised on that wonderful ranch that was situated on the east bank of the Hassayampa River. They grew up helping their parents with ranch duties, horseback riding, exploring the desert and showing horses in the Arizona Circuit.
Sophie and her brothers were partly tutored in the ranch schoolhouse by their aunt, Billie Fletcher, and they attended Wickenburg Elementary and High Schools. Sophie also attended 2 years at the Lincoln School for Girls in Providence, Rhode Island, where her mother also had attended.
While attending the University of Arizona, in Tucson, Sophie was introduced to Dom Echeverria, a handsome lieutenant fresh out of the Navy Aircorps, her future husband. Dom had grown up in Wickenburg where his family were sheep and cattle ranchers. Somehow, they had never met before.
After a year or so courtship, they were married at St. Anthony's Catholic Church on May 1, 1948, and enjoyed a lavish wedding reception at the Remuda Ranch. They spent their early marriage living in places where Dom was studying, ending up in Ft. Collins, Colorado, where he graduated from Colorado A & M in 1950 with his doctorate in veterinary medicine.
They settled in Berthoud, Colorado, where Dom was the only veterinarian in the area. Babies, Elaine and Jack, had arrived; although Jack died at 18 months from complications of Cystic Fibrosis. Along came sons, Peter, Paul, and daughter, Anne.
In 1956 while Dom just out of the Army as a lieutenant veterinarian of last mule unit, Dom and Sophie decided to move to Peru, where Dom would work for the United States government in the Point Four program. Dom would be providing education and guidance to the Peruvian government's vast sheep and cattle operations.
The family of six moved to Lima, Peru. Sophie stayed in Lima with the four little ones (ages 1-6 years) while Dom began his duties up in the Andes, visiting his family when he could. Soon he moved the family up to a ranch called Granja Porcon about 40 miles east of Cajamarca. There the family lived a most adventurous life living amongst the local Andeans and Peruvians with horses, some sheep, llamas and chickens, etc.
Sophie became ill during her pregnancy and little Peter developed a complication from his Cystic Fibrosis that needed surgery. Sophie flew home to Wickenburg with her four children while Dom stayed behind to complete his contract with the US government and the Peruvians.
In Wickenburg, Sophie gave birth to son, David, and Peter had his surgery and recovered. In 1958, Dom returned to his family and settled them in Longmont, Colorado. Dom bought sheep - and all that goes with them - and began his new remarkable career as a sheep man. Sophie helped with the business end, especially while raising the family. Daughter Sophie came along, and then son, Joseph.
Life at home in Longmont was very good, but not easy. Peter and Joe both had Cystic Fibrosis so there were daily lung treatments (pounding) and various hospital stays. Sophie was a co-founder of the National Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and was active in raising funds for the organization for the remainder of her life. She was also a devoted member of St. John's Church. She became a marvelous cook and fed her family of nine - along with any sheepherders who were also in the residence (down stairs).
Instead of a television in our home, Sophie and Dom provided the family with plenty of books to read, all sorts of music, and numerous trips each year to live theater, music and dance performances in Denver. Everyone in the family would dress up - as would the sheepherders living with us - and off we'd go to Denver for a higher-end restaurant meal and then a wonderful performance. All of Sophie's children are voracious readers.
From 1958 to 1966 Dom leased ranches in Wyoming to pasture his herds (2000 head each) for the spring, summer and fall. The family joined him as often as possible to help in the work and the wonderful and adventurous lifestyle of being in the sheep business.
In 1966, Dom purchased six ranches in one day at an auction on the steps of the courthouse in Casper, Wyoming. From then on, the family summer home was on the McCarty Canyon Ranch, 40 miles southwest of Rawlins, Wyoming. That was a marvelous time of gathering - friends, family, parties and pets. We often had up to 25 persons for dinner. Everyone in the family worked with the sheep, cattle and horses, irrigating the hay meadows, and general ranch work along with lots of hiking. We loved the ranch so much that everyone cried a tear or two when we had to leave each fall and head back to school. In the spring, the day after school let out, we were all packed and ready to head home to the ranch.
On March 17, 1970, Dom was killed in a truck accident in Kansas, while he was shipping sheep. He left behind one of the top ten largest sheep operations in the US at the time. With the help of Roy, Mark, Michael, Poli, Juan and Jose Marie, Sophie managed the remaining sheep, cattle, herders, as well as lawyers, bankers, etc. Eventually, the livestock was sold as were three ranches to settle the debts. Sophie then focused on raising her brood, ages, six to nineteen, and running the remaining business interests. Gradually, she settled into a new lifestyle.
Sophie returned to college after everyone had left the nest, and earned a BA in counseling, and worked at The Meadows for a time, where she was also a graduate.
Sophie enjoyed her summer home in Jackson, Wyoming and her home in Wickenburg. Along the way she published three books about her life's adventures, wrote numerous poems, created sculptures and drawings. Her favorite pastime was being with her family and pets. She also enjoyed hiking, laughter, and helping others by just listening, telling her jokes, and by her generous gifting and donations. She paid for over thirty people to go through The Meadows and contributed to their family's education.
Sophie was a vibrant, fascinating, creative, beautiful, loving woman who had a huge impact on everyone's life who knew her. Some of her favorite sayings were "Eat dessert first," "Look both ways before breaking the law," and "Carry on, 'disirregardless'." She'll be missed by many folks, as well as her dog, cat and wild birds.
Sophie will be remembered for her astonishing generosity. She funded 14 full scholarships, Bachelor's degrees, M.D.s, and a J.D. She also contributed generously to Phoenix Children's Hospital.
She is predeceased by her husband, Dom, and sons, Jack, Peter, and Joseph, and her grandson, Gus.
She is survived by her daughter, Elaine (Joe) Infanger, son, Paul Echeverria, daughter, Anne Echeverria (Andy Hanson), son, Dave (Cristina) Echeverria, and daughter, Sophie Morgan.
Her grandchildren are Jessica (Bryan), and Emily (Mike), Charlie Anne (Neil), Jack (Brook), Ellie, Otto (Rikki), Sophie (Andy), River (Alex), Jake (Ela'), Jeremy (Dre), Grace (Patrick), Yennifer, Rafael, Joe (Tara), Kelley (Doug), Peter (Jenny), John (Afton), Ethan and Michael.
Her great-grandchildren are Ronan, Isaac, Madi, Sami, Sadie, Ewan, Elison, Caitlin, Sophie, Everite, Patrick, Jordan, Jacob, Jordan, Jaylin, Jackson, Alayna, Sage and Behr.
In lieu of flowers, donations to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation would be greatly appreciated.
A celebration of Sophie's life will be held in The Clubhouse, Los Caballeros Guest Ranch, at 11:00 am on December 8.
Friends may offer online condolences at www.wickenburgfuneralhome.com