Locha was born to humble beginnings in a farm house west of Tolleson, Arizona. She worked on the farm while attending school in Tolleson, and later earned bachelors and masters degrees from Arizona State University.
Locha was born in 1935 in a farmhouse west of Tolleson, AZ. Locha’s parents had immigrated from Mexico–-her father Sotero Diaz from Zacatecas and her mother Jesusita Arrieta Diaz from Durango. Locha was the fourth of nine children. She grew up doing manual farm work which inspired her to pursue an education as her mother Jesusita urged her to do.
At Tolleson Union High School, Locha was active in many clubs, president of her class for three years and won the Varsity Women’s Tennis Championship for the State of Arizona. She was an avid sportswoman, excelling at nearly every sport then available to women including softball, volleyball, tennis, gymnastics and fencing.
During their teen years, Locha and her two sisters played softball with the Tolleson Rockettes for several years in the 1940’s and 1950’s. At age 16, with a 528 percent batting average, Locha was recruited to play with the PBSW Ramblers, one of Arizona’s semi-professional women’s softball teams.
With the Ramblers, she traveled nationally and internationally in the 1950’s including a world championship competition in Toronto, Canada. In her later years, Locha enjoyed the annual “Field of Our Own” reunion of those old softball friends. In 2002, Locha was named to the Arizona Hispanic Sports Hall of Fame.
The passion for a new beginning and the ability to join as a link in the chain must go together. We know that the generations which produced us are within us and that whatever new thing we accomplish draws its real significance from that.
Locha’s Ramblers career ended when she went on to college. After enrolling at Arizona State Teacher’s College (now ASU), she took up volleyball and fencing, winning awards in the latter. She was Arizona State College (now ASU) Woman of the Year in 1958. She earned a BA in Education (1958) and an MA in Special Education (1960). She taught one year in Cashion, AZ and another at the Benet School for Handicapped Children in Mesa, AZ.
Continuing her teaching career, she accepted a position abroad in Germany. There, she bought a little red 1960 Volkswagen and traveled throughout Europe. One summer she accompanied 108 teachers and students to Russia. The next year she helped guide 100 Arizona students around Europe.
In 1961 she was ready for a new assignment, but first shipped her VW to the U.S. picking it up in New York.
She had decided to drive alone across the US, not telling her parents until she reached New Mexico. As she expected, they were upset with her for making this long trip alone, which was an unusual thing in those days for a young woman. Locha then left for her next teaching assignment in the jungles of Venezuela. In her spare time there, she rode horses, panned for gold and took flying lessons. She earned her pilot’s license and eventually flew solo.
After two years, Locha yearned to see yet another part of the world. She took a position in Iran where she taught all eight grades in a small school. While in Iran, Locha met Bob Parker, an executive with Santa Fe International, a top global firm in the oil well drilling industry. They returned to Tolleson for their wedding in 1964 and both were reassigned to Libya.
Two years later, in 1966, they were transferred to Kuwait where their son DeJon was born. For the next several years they lived and worked in Venezuela, Kuwait, Lebanon, and Bahrain. During all of these assignments, Locha continued teaching in local American schools and she continued to pursue international travel!
In 1979, Locha and her son DeJon suffered a great tragedy when Bob Parker died of a heart attack in Bahrain. Locha and DeJon returned home to Tolleson to be with their large extended family.
Locha wanted to stay busy and be out of doors, so she took a rural postal delivery route and through that job she met Chuck Spangler, director of the post office in Glendale. In 1982 Locha and Chuck were married.
Locha and Chuck were active in Tolleson city and school government, community service, and the Blessed Sacrament Church. Locha served on the Tolleson School Board .
Widowed again in 1988, Locha focused on family, community service, and developing her spirituality. Additionally, she privately helped many youth and adults continue their education and supported several Tolleson projects for youth.
Locha was very curious and explored many avenues of healing traditions, including reiki, homeopathy, QiGong and hypnosis. She trained in hospice and was a chaplain’s aide at St. Luke’s Hospital. She was constantly reading and taking classes and workshops all her life and encouraged others to join her. She studied watercolor under Paul Kuo at Glendale Community College. She wrote most days, and left behind a trove of journals and inspirational prayers, meditations and affirmations.
Locha was a true internationalist; she accepted and strove to understand peoples of all nationalities and faiths. As a philanthropist, one of her last acts was to honor her lifelong commitment to education. Two months before her death, Locha transferred to her brother Lionel the resources to establish the Eloisa Diaz Educational Foundation in order to meet some of the educational needs of Hispanic youth, especially in their home town of Tolleson, AZ. Locha died November 25, 2000 at the age of 65.