view all 13
About Victoria M Anaya-Villagomez
One of city's 1st female bus drivers called 'woman ahead of her time'
The Blade: Toledo, Ohio Monday, June 21, 2004
Victoria M. Anaya-Villagomez, one of Toledo's first female bus drivers, died Saturday of a lung condition. She was 73.
Mrs. Anaya-Villagomez, a 25-year veteran of the city's public busing system, was one of two women hired. Both were minorities - Mrs. Anaya-Villagomez was Hispanic, the other driver was black.
It was that pioneering spirit - she cut her hair short long before it was fashionable - that made her "a woman ahead of her time," one daughter recalled.
"She was a very strong woman," said daughter Victoria Ludeman of Toledo. "She made sure we had breakfast before we went to school. She made sure we got to school. And later that night, she would come home and fix dinner."
Born to migrant workers in Texas, Mrs. Anaya-Villagomez joined her family and worked in the fields at age 8. She later worked at a lunch counter, as a nurse's aid, and at other odd jobs through her teens. Her father taught her to drive when she was 10.
In the early 1960s, she began driving a dellivery truck of Mexican products to local stores, which laid the groundwork for her career in public transit.
"No experience?" she wrote in a 1982 essay published by The Blade. "I drove a 10-year-old station wagon full of kids to five different schools, running out of gas during the 8 a.m. rush hour, or getting a flat tire in the middle of the intersection of South and Broadway in the rain."
She was a notorious prankster who loved practical jokes - like the time she falsely convinced her daughter Victoria that her real name was Polanco.
"She told me she was just kidding before I hung up, because she could see I was getting upset," Ms. Ludeman recalled.
And she was devoutly Catholic, making sure each of her children attended parochial school, said daughter Barbara Nino.
"She was always really adventourous," Ms. Nino said.
Surviving is her second husband, Francisco Villagomez; daughters, Vivan Gonzales, Luisa Anaya, Victoria Ludeman, Cynthia Smith, and Barbara Nino; son Rueben Anaya; 19 grandchildren, and 24 great-grandchildren.
A Rosary will be recited tomorrow night at 7 at Coyle Funeral Home, where the family will receive family and friends after 7 p.m. today and after 2 p.m. tomorrow.
Funeral servies will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Ss. Peter and Paul Church, Toledo.
The family suggest any tributes be to the American Lung Association.