Georgina Sanchez-Tugman, beloved mother, wife, sibling, and friend, passed away peacefully on November 19, 2021 at the age of 95. She was a force of nature, known for her outgoing personality, intelligence, and propensity for dishing out Dear Abby-like advice.
Georgina was born on April 16, 1926 in El Paso, Texas, to immigrant parents who taught her to work hard and to reach for the stars. A child of The Great Depression, she nevertheless went onto to obtain both her BA and MA from the University of Texas at El Paso. In 1946, she married her childhood sweetheart, fellow El Paso native and former physician, Dr. Angel Ernest Sanchez, the first Mexican-American medical doctor in San Diego. She helped him set up his first practice by juggling many roles at once: accountant, assistant nurse, and receptionist. She also took on the responsibility of winding down the practice when her husband sadly passed away from ALS in 1984.
Georgina was additionally the mother of four children: Marc, Michael, Michele and Marcia and was involved in many of their school activities when they attended Blessed Sacrament School. Notably, she helped establish a Spanish language program at the school in 1962 and set up a Friday Free Lunch program for students.
Having tragically lost her son Michael to Leukemia in 1967, she turned her attention to the battle against cancer and served as Cancer Crusade Area Chairperson from 1968-1971. Her activism continued to branch out into other areas, including membership on the San Diego County Advisory Committee on Drug Abuse (TACDA) from 1974-1976 and in the San Diego County Medical Society from 1958 to 1985. In 1993, she received the San Diego’s Special Medical Mothers Award from the California Hispanic American Medical Association, and in 1994, she became a tireless advocate for patients with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), a role she continued for many years.
Georgina’s sense of adventure was reflected in the flying lessons she took in her early forties as well as her various world travels. She and Dr. Sanchez were ahead of their time when they visited the former Soviet Union in the early years of Détente in order to tour the country’s polyclinics. This trip was also notable for her dressing down of a KGB agent, whom she felt was trailing her daughter a little too closely, in the middle of Nevsky Prospect in front of a crowd of stunned Russians.
Georgina enjoyed the later years of her life when she found love again and married her second husband, former teacher and World War II naval veteran, Leonard Tugman, in 1987. They spent their time traveling, dancing, playing golf, and being active with family until Leonard’s death in 2016.
Georgina lived her last years in tranquility, near her eldest children in Carlsbad, CA. With her passing, she did indeed reach the stars her parents mentioned so long ago.
The family kindly requests those who wish to express sympathy to consider donating to Open Medicine Foundation to further Georgina’s activism for patients with ME/CFS at: https://www.omf.ngo/