Carmen Flangas, longtime RN, devoted wife to John of over 61 years, den-mother to a number of high school and college attendees who called her home their home during their time at both Manogue H.S. and the University of Nevada, Reno, and care-giver to many within her own family over the years, died peacefully in her sleep at home during the morning of Tuesday, June 4, 2019. She was 85.
Carmen was born March 7, 1934 to Valentina and Fernando Segura as a true “native Nevadan” when, halfway on the 50 mile drive from the family’s ranch in Antelope Valley to Eureka, Nevada, her father stopped the truck filled with her brothers and older sister at a bend in the dirt road and assisted his wife with the delivery. Growing up on the ranch, the Segura kids, Carmen, Domingo, Martin, Tony and older sister Emilia, spent their days riding horses, working the land, and sometimes making dinner and running errands for the hunters who occupied the bunk house in the wintertime and were often guided on their hunts by the family to help fill a ranching family’s coffers during the long, lean winters.
Carmen began her schooling in a one-room schoolhouse on that ranch, but soon moved to Eureka and stayed with shirt-tail relatives and family friends to receive a more formal education. Graduating from Eureka High School in 1952, Carmen decided she would become a nurse.
Carmen met John when she was only 17 years old, and he, being six years her senior, invited her to join him and some friends for a drink at a club in Ely (*which was the thing to do, apparently) – which drink he promptly spilled in her lap. John was smitten, and – first impressions aside – he must nonetheless have impressed young Carmen enough that she stayed in touch, returning to Ely after attending two years of nursing school at Holy Cross Hospital School of Nursing and a year of college at St. Mary’s of the Wasatch, both in Salt Lake City, and became a registered nurse.
The couple was married in Ely, Nevada, on August 18, 1957, by Father William Costigan at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church. John and Carmen spent the next seven days driving – first to and from Las Vegas for a whirlwind two-day honeymoon, and then another five-days across the US in Carmen’s 1957 Chevrolet Belair to relocate for three years to Washington, D.C., so that John could attend law school at American University.
Carmen worked for various doctors during their time in D.C., returning to Reno, Nevada, in 1962, where Carmen continued working as a nurse. She worked for more than a decade at Washoe Medical Center, quickly becoming the Head Nurse for Pediatrics. Carmen later worked several years for St. Mary’s Hospital, and was promoted there to a head-nursing role as well, eventually returning to work at Renown Hospital. All told, Carmen’s career as an RN spanned more than 45 years.
Despite her full-time work career, Carmen also welcomed many high school and college students, as well as other family and friends, as both long-term residents and regular house-guests, and the Flangas table was always stocked. Reno, after all, was the big city as compared to the small towns where many family and friends lived, and there were doctors to visit, shopping to be done, a college to attend, and Reno had the only Catholic high school in Northern Nevada (Bishop Manogue HS). Various nieces and nephews on both Carmen’s and John’s side of the family lived with the Flangases to attend school, and other relatives and friends stayed whenever they needed a place. Carmen’s multi-bedroom house was often full, even though she and John had only one child of their own (Alex). Dinner was rarely just the immediately family, but it was grand having so many people coming and going, and no one believed Alex when he claimed he was an “only child.”
Carmen will be remembered most for her professionalism as a nurse, her generosity in caring for family members who needed a care-giver when times were most difficult, as someone who became surprisingly skilled in the kitchen mastering many Greek recipes taught to her by her mother-in-law, Fay Flangas, and many other Greek friends and relatives of her husband (despite not being Greek herself), and as a role model for her son, Alex, by virtue of her fiercely independent nature.
Carmen loved plants, trees, and gardens – and always had fresh fruit and vegetables at her home. She loved the outdoors and never gave up her love of the mountains in and around Eureka, where she returned often to spot deer and help with annual hunts; she also participated in her fair share with cousin-in-law Tom Johnston and brother-in-law Angelo Tognoni acting as her guides and mentors. And, without question, Carmen will be recalled fondly as a beautiful lady who – grudgingly perhaps – fell in love with that rogue Greek guy who spilled a drink in her lap when she was just seventeen, and then came back and stayed by his side for the next 61 years.
Carmen is survived by her loving husband, John, who misses her but is so happy to have shared his life with her, son Alex, daughter-in-law Amanda, granddaughter Nicole, and all those nieces, nephews, cousins, and other friends and relatives who considered Carmen as part of their family. The Flangas family would also like to thank Renown Hospice for their assistance during the last six weeks of Carmen’s time with us; as a nurse herself, Carmen appreciated the attention to her condition and her needs during a difficult time.
Donations in lieu of flowers can be made to either The Give Hope Foundation (www.givehopenv.org) or the Joseph Ayarbe Memorial Scholarship Fund, Truckee Meadows Community College.
A Memorial service will be held on Monday, July 1, 2019, at 2:30 p.m. at Our Lady of Snows Catholic Church, 1138 Wright Street, Reno, Nevada, followed by a Celebration of Life at the Nugget Casino Resort, 1100 Nugget Avenue, Sparks, Nevada.
If you would like to express your condolences or share a special memory please visit www.waltonsfuneralhomes.com.