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Maria (Sansinena) Lacouague

Maria (Sansinena) Lacouague
Marie (Sansinena) Lacouague

04/04/2022 - San Juan Capistrano, CA, EEUU

María Encarnacion (Sansinena) Lacouague ha fallecido en su casa familiar de San Juan Capistrano a los 98 años.

María nació en Ainhoa, Lapurdi, y llegó de su tierra vasca natal con 23 años. Aquí conocería a Jean 'John' Lacouague, un euskaldun nacido en el rancho familiar en San Juan Capistrano. Se casaron en 1951 en la Basílica de San Juan Capistrano. Fueron padres de Danny, Michelle, Denise y Renee.. La familia Lacouague y el rancho homónimo forman parte de la historia del Orange county. El padre de John, asentado aquí proveniente del País Vasco, adquirió en 1920 los 260 acres iniciales del rancho, dedicado al cultivo de naranjas.

Aunque con el tiempo el rancho se vendería, los Lacouague mantuvieron 5 acres, las de la casa y colina del rancho, en los que seguía viviendo la familia y donde ha fallecido Maria. John falleció en 2008.

The service for Marie’s Celebration of Life will be held on April 29 at 10:30am at Holy Trinity Church, Ladera Ranch. Directly following that, we will be going to the burial site at Ascension Cemetery in Lake Forest. The reception will be held at the Lacouague Ranch around 2:30pm, only for people who are invited.

Una de las hijas de Maria es Renee (Lacouague) Bondi, una reconocida cantante cristiana de larga trayectoria en EEUU, que aporta su activo testimonio desde una silla de ruedas.


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. (

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

Goian Bego (GB) - May she Rest in Peace

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