Maria J. Diaz Dies at 66; Had Mexican Restaurant

Maria Justina Diaz

Maria Justina Diaz of 362 Kaagwaantaan has gone to Heaven. Affectionately known as “La Cuty,” she contributed greatly to the Hispanic community of Sitka over her 35 years of calling Sitka her home.

Cuty was born on the family ranch at Tierra Generosa, Nayarit, Mexico, on September 26, 1956, the eldest of the ten children of Abundio Diaz and Aurelia Partida. Her parents were renowned and instrumental in the founding and development of the rural community. Working on the family ranch tending cattle, harvesting crops, and helping her mother care for her siblings, Cuty had a very strong work ethic.

Cuty was married to Sergio Ponce and had two children, Luis and Silvia Ponce Diaz, in Tuxpan, Nayarit. Her second husband was Jose Partida of Tierra Generosa.

Cuty made her way to Sitka with her two children in May 1987 to work for a childhood friend, Dora Vasquez, at the first Mexican restaurant in town, El Dorado. Soon after, her parents and all of her siblings followed her to Sitka to visit, work and settle here.

Cuty was an excellent cook, and in the 1990s started her own restaurant,  Mi Ranchito, on Sawmill Creek Road. Many traditional Mexican holidays, festivals, quinceaneras, birthdays and anniversaries were celebrated at her restaurant with pinatas, music, dancing and games. The name of her restaurant was a tribute to her family ranch at “Generous Earth,” a place she loved dearly. 

Cuty was preceded in death by her parents, Abundio and Aurelia, her sister Eva, brother Laurencio, and nephews Elmer and Ulises, and David. 

She is survived by her brothers and their wives Guillermo and Lupita, Gonzalo and Norma, Martin and Rose, and brother Dionicio “Nicho”; sister-in-law Maria Rodriguez; and her sisters and their husbands, Socorro and Armando, Mirella and Martin, and sister Bella.

 Her legacy lives on through her grandchildren Odalys, Frederico, Xtlaliz, and Jorge; great-grandchild Arely; and many nieces and nephews.

Cuty was ushered into glory on December 8, 2022, after a long, arduous battle with health issues. She was exceptionally valiant, strong and cheerful during this time, and although periodically suffering loss and physical pain, she was never complaining. Maria J. Diaz is fondly remembered for her giving spirit, abundant grace, zest for life, and sweet sense of humor.

Letters of condolence can be sent to her daughter, Silvia Diaz, 362 Kaagwaantaan, Sitka, Alaska 99835.

Login Form



July 2004
Photo caption: Junior League All Stars will compete in a tournament in Wrangell. From left are Bryn Calhoun, Chris Scott, Sean O’Neill, Ross Venneberg, Caleb McGraw, Richard Carlos, Jacob Houston, Coby McCarty, Bryan Lovett and Daniel Erickson.


July 1974

Photo caption: Volunteers leave the Yaw Building Library with loads of books being transferred to the new Orin and Betty Stratton Library on the Sheldon Jackson campus. SJC librarian Evelyn Bonner expressed appreciation to the community for the help.


Local Events


Daily Sitka Sentinel on Instagram!


Daily Sitka Sentinel on Facebook!