basque heritage worldwide

In memory of

Maria (Sansinena) Lacouague

Maria (Sansinena) Lacouague
Marie (Sansinena) Lacouague

04/04/2022 - San Juan Capistrano, California, USA

Maria Encarnacion (Sansinena) Lacouague passed away at her family home in San Juan Capistrano at the age of 98.

María was born in Ainhoa, Lapurdi ​​and arrived to Orange county from her native Basque land at the age of 23. Here she met Jean 'John' Lacouague, a Basque American born in San Juan Capistrano. They were married in 1951 at the Basilica of San Juan Capistrano. The Lacouague family and ranch are part of the heritage and history of Orange County. John's father settled here from the Basque Country and acquired in 1920 the initial 260 acres of the family orange ranch. The ranch was sold for develoment in 1986 but the Lacougues kept 5 acres, where the family continued to live and where Maria passed away. John passed away in 2008.

Marie’s Celebration of Life will be held on April 29 at 10:30am at Holy Trinity Church, Ladera Ranch. Directly following that, burial at Ascension Cemetery in Lake Forest. A private reception will be held at the Lacouague Ranch around 2:30pm.

One of her daughters is Renee (Lacouague) Bondi a nationally reknown Christian singer.


Obituary published by O'Connor Mortuary - Laguna Hills Chapel & Mortuary, on Apr. 20, 2022:

Maria Encarnacion Lacouague, matriarch of our family, passed away peacefully on Saturday evening, April 2, 2022. After celebrating her 98 birthday only the week before, she joins her husband, Jean Pierre, who predeceased her in 2008.

Our Matchi (short for Amatxi: grandmother in Basque) was born in Ainhoa, France on March 25, 1924, to Doroteo and Isabel Sansinena. She is survived by her widowed sister, Conchita Irigoyen, and immediate family who remain in Ainhoa. Her other sibling, Raymond, was deceased in 1962.

Growing up very near the Spanish border in France, Matchi was blessed to learn three languages-Basque, French, and Spanish. Her teenage years were mostly influenced by World War II and, notably, the German Occupation of France when their little village of Ainhoa was overtaken. The Sansinena family home, located on the main road through town, was forced to house five German soldiers for three years. Valuables and family heirlooms were creatively concealed as the soldiers confiscated nearly everything at that time.

At 23 and knowing no English, Matchi emigrated to the United States with the encouragement of her lifelong friend and fellow Basque, Carmen Oyharzabal. Her journey was sponsored by her Uncle Salustiano Sansinena, who at that time was a cattle foreman for the Moulton Ranch-the core of which is now known as Nellie Gail. Shortly after her arrival, in an effort to learn English, she was enrolled at Marywood High School where she spent two years mostly speaking Spanish with the Cuban nuns who were teaching at the time.

Eventually, she was introduced to a young Sunkist citrus grower in San Juan Capistrano named Jean Pierre Lacouague whose own father, Pierre, was born in her hometown and had also come to America to seek a better life. Pierre was married to Bonifacia Mujica, from Amayur, Spain. Jean Pierre spoke fluent Basque which was their common language. They were married on June 2, 1951. (Matchi would later say, it was Jean's Basque that attracted her to him, "He spoke better Basque than !")

Matchi became the consummate homemaker, cooking and cleaning daily for her family and the hired hands who helped work the ranch. Juggling the school schedules of four kids while cooking three meals each day when, in those days, our home lacked a dishwasher, clothes dryer, and disposable diapers easily qualified her for sainthood.
She introduced us to our extended family in Europe and encouraged travel, learning her native dialects, and about our Basque heritage. We experienced all night dancing-in-the-streets fiestas, the amazing beauty of her homeland, multiple languages around the dinner table, and the genuine laughter that came when Matchi recounted her childhood stories with her mother and sister over some wine.

Ultimately, when her children left the family home, Matchi was able to turn to prayer as her time now became her own. A dedicated prayer warrior and linguist, Matchi prayed constantly and traveled the world daily on her iPad-a prescient gift from her grandson that facilitated her connectivity with the old country. Now fluent in four languages, she recited her rosary anywhere in the world where one of her native tongues or English was spoken as she prayed for each member of her family and their intentions every day. She remains an exemplar to us all.

Rest in peace Maria Encarnacion Lacouague, Matchi, mom, and know you were loved !

She is survived by her four children: Daniel (Vicki) Lacouague, Michelle (Douglas) Smith, Denise (Joseph) Loyatho, and Renee (Michael) Bondi; eight grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren, all of whom she loved dearly.

Her funeral Mass will be held at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Ladera Ranch on Friday, April 29, at 10:30 am followed by her interment at Ascension Cemetery in Lake Forest.

(In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the Chino Basque Club. (

Goian Bego (GB) - May she Rest in Peace

In memory of

Send us a death notice






© 2014 - 2019 Basque Heritage Elkartea

Bera Bera 73
20009 Donostia / San Sebastián
Tel: (+34) 943 316170

jaurlaritza gipuzkoa bizkaia