By Steve Rivera –
2016 Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Business Woman of the Year
Had it been up to Agnes Ronstadt Poore’s young children she would have never helped start one of Southern Arizona’s distinguished medical facilities, Casa de la Luz Hospice. Their young eyes and equally youthful wisdom thought mom starting the business with friend, Lynette Jaramillo, wasn’t wise.
“They said it was a bad idea,” she recalled. “I said, ‘Oh, really? You do? Why?”
“Because,” they said, “you’re going to be sad every day.”
But, in her best motherly voice – and perhaps using her best bedside manner – Ronstadt Poore explained that, “yes, it can be sad when (people) lose someone they love. But what we get to do is make it the best time possible. And that’s what we do.”
That was her big comforting hug.
“They didn’t think it was such a bad idea anymore,” she said.
Eighteen years later, Ronstadt Poore, the chief clinical officer, and co-founder Jaramillo are doing just fine, as are the families they help who have a loved one dealing with end of life.
In that time, they have helped more than 20,000 families when times were the toughest. This year, Ronstadt Poore said, they will assist more than 2,000 families, and more with the help of follow-through bereavement programs.
Because of her success, the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has selected Ronstadt Poore as its 2016 Hispanic Business Woman of the Year.
“Agnes and her partner have provided a vital service to so many of our families and are an inspiration to business owners,” said Lea Marquez Peterson, president of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber. “We are honored to be celebrating her success and community leadership as our Hispanic Business Woman of the Year. Agnes is from a pioneering family − the Ronstadts − and has been a key healthcare leader in our state.”
If the name is recognizable, well, it’s because it is. Agnes comes from a long line of Ronstadts who are familiar to Tucsonans. Many family members have been in high-profile political and civic positions. Her first cousin is Rock & Roll Hall of Fame singer Linda Ronstadt.
“People know that I’m a Ronstadt and I’m proud to say that,” she said.
Ronstadt Poore never imagined all the success Casa de La Luz Hospice would have, now with a staff of nearly 250. The founders started the business after each mortgaged their home to secure a $150,000 loan.
The plan was to hope to make it work for seven years. Seven years came and went.
“We will continue to do this as long as we can and we enjoy our work,” she said.