Our beloved son and brother, Neal Apodaca-Joffe, passed into the arms of our Lord, on Sunday September 19, 2021.
Neal was preceded in death by his paternal grandmother Ruth J. Sherman and his maternal grandfather Anthony J. Apodaca.
He is survived by his parents Claudia Apodaca and Gary Joffe; brother Jordan Apodaca-Joffe; paternal grandparents Dr. Robert and Julianne Sherman; maternal grandmother Frieda Apodaca. He was blessed with many aunts, uncles and cousins including Vincent Apodaca and Donna Sedillo (Veronica and Sam), Christine and Robert Muehlenweg (Joshua and his wife Amanda, Zachary, and Damon), Anthony and Diane Apodaca (Anthony, Alicia, Francesca, Isabella, Serafina), Gail and Dennis Lalk (Ellen and Rebecca), Bernice Sue and Sam Behar (Hannah and Daniel).
Neal was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico on May 31, 1991. He was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy at age two. Despite his disability, Neal was able to enjoy a very full and productive life.
Neal’s childhood and teen years were spent attending Alvarado Elementary School, Queen of Heaven Catholic School, followed by home schooling. He then attended UNM where he graduated Suma Cum Laude with a degree in Psychology. Neal was able to maintain his physical health with the assistance of hippotherapy, first under the guidance of Jeannie Aisenbrey, followed by Melanie Tidman, and Deborah Lamphere.
Neal loved music and was an outstanding musician, both on the piano and later the slide guitar. He loved animals and the ocean. Despite his disability, he enjoyed horseback riding and scuba diving. Neal loved to travel around the world with the assistance of his family, including the Apodaca-Muehlenwegs and the Sedillo-Apodacas. He had an incredible knowledge of geography and history. Neal was a true “Jeopardy Champion” and routinely answered more questions correctly than the winner of the show!
Medical challenges became quite regular for Neal in 2013. He received life changing spinal surgery at The Barrow Neurologic Institute in Phoenix with Dr. Kakarla in 2015. After surgery, Neal was able to enjoy robust health which allowed him to travel and complete his higher education. Along the way, Neal remained incredibly close to his brother Jordan and his cousin Joshua Apodaca-Muehlenweg, traveling together and enjoying foods of the world both in person, and on the Food Network channel.
After graduation from UNM, Neal continued to assist his dear friend Vincent Gonzales with IT updates through their shared computer network. He attended daily mass with his mother Claudia and his grandmother Frieda Apodaca. He loved praying The Divine Mercy Chaplet every Friday with his Aunt Tina.
First and foremost in Neal’s life was his love of Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church. He became something of a biblical scholar and enjoyed immensely his discussions with Father Jimmy Marchonda, Father Andrew Pavlack, Father Mike Demkovich, and the many wonderful priests and deacons that he met at Aquinas Newman Center and San Felipe DeNeri Church in Albuquerque. Trips around the world always included mass at local churches and included memorable tours of The Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, Our Lady of Manakilla in Maui, Loretto Abbey in Toronto, Basilica San Marco in Venice, and the four major Basilicas of Rome.
While visiting the Vatican in 2019, Neal was able to attend mass at the tomb of St. Peter. In Assisi, Father Mike Demkovich introduced Neal to Brother Charles at the Basillica of St. Francis of Assisi. Brother Charles allowed Neal to view personal documents of St. Francis, original writings, and the metal dye cast used to found the order of the Franciscans in 1209. Neal viewed this as a true highlight in his life.
Neal’s trip to Rome culminated in a personal visit with Pope Francis. While conversing in Spanish, Neal asked the Pope to pray for the Catholic community in Albuquerque.
Neal’s life was greatly enriched with the company of Maialen Ciaurriz Velasco and Stacey McCrary who helped him to navigate the campus of UNM. He was also blessed to live in a neighborhood that loved and supported him generously and greatly throughout the years.
We would like to thank the wonderful physicians and nurses at Presbyterian Hospital ER and ICU for their especially skilled and compassionate care during the last weeks of Neal’s life.
Neal's Life Celebration will begin with a Rosary to be recited on Monday, September 27, 2021 at 10:30am at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church located at 1860 Griegos Rd NW, 87107. Mass will begin at 11:00am. Neal will be laid to rest following the Mass at Mount Calvary Cemetery located at 1900 Edith Blvd NE, 87102.
Pallbearers will be Jordan Apodaca-Joffe, Joshua Apodaca-Muehlenweg, Damon Apodaca-Muehlenweg, Vincent Apodaca, Sam Behar, and Robert Muehlenweg.
Donations can be made to: dailytvmass.com; the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy; and the Muscular Dystrophy Association
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