María Encarnación Seco De Lucena Vázquez Gardner




Encarnita Seco de Lucena Vázquez Gardner was born in Granada, in the midst of Spain’s Civil War, to
Luis Seco de Lucena Paredes and María Vázquez Ruiz. She is survived by her husband, John, her sisters, Anita and María Isabel, her son, John Anthony (Arely), daughter, Sara Margaret (Suzanne), son-in-law, Jamie and by seven grandchildren, Gabriela (Rowan), Lucia, Tanía Olivia, Sara Julieta, Nicholas, John Teo and Willow; and is predeceased by her brother, Luis and by her daughter, María Luisa Gardner.


The story of Encarnita’s life is best told in two acts. She grew up embraced by a family honoured and appreciated by Granada’s cultural, academic and political circles. Her home was situated on a street carrying the family name, Seco de Lucena. As she grew from teenager to young adult, she pursued post-graduate studies in Arabic, published volumes of poetry and acted on the stage. Her life was predictable and rich.


That period ended one Christmas day on the beach when she met a young Canadian. After a four-year courtship aided by air mail, she married him in Granada and crossed the ocean to live in Canada.  She poured her energy into her new home and its language, and together they raised a family that became her highest achievement. She taught at Trafalgar School (Montreal) and Havergal College (Toronto) and returned to academic studies (University of Toronto), obtaining her doctorate in Spanish literature. She supported her husband’s business life and published additional books, before turning to painting.  Today her artworks are held in collections on four continents.


Life in Canada never weakened Encarnita’s Spanish roots, as she remained an anchor for her family in Spain and held on to childhood friendships all her life.  She and John increasingly divided their time between Toronto and their home in Spain.  In her seventies, Encarnita joined John on one of his life’s passions, the Camino de Santiago, and together they walked the 600 mile footpath across the north of Spain.


Encarnita experienced life through poetry, living very much in the present tense. She was always ready for an adventure and her diminutive stature belied her powerful presence. Her strength lay in her heart as she interacted with those around her directly and clearly. While she was intuitively sensitive to their needs and concerns, there was never any confusion about what she was thinking. Family and friends on both sides of the Atlantic sought out and respected her opinions on both people and happenings.  She taught character and courage, an attitude that has built a family with two Olympians.  Encarnita’s smile was magnetic, quickly lighting up any room and drawing together a vast range of wonderful people into our lives.


The family will receive friends at the Humphrey Funeral Home A.W. Miles – Newbigging Chapel, 1403 Bayview Avenue on Wednesday, June 29th from 2:00 to 4:00 and from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. A service will be held at Blessed Sacrament Church, 24 Cheritan Avenue on Thursday, June 30th at 11:00 for family and friends


The premature death of her daughter María Luisa led to lifelong support of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and her family is so very grateful to the Temmy Latner Centre for Palliative Care for their support of Encarnita in her final year. If considering a memorial donation, please direct it to the LLS ( or TLCPC through Sinai Health Foundation (  Condolences may be forwarded through


Stronger still than when it lived inside you,

your heart, with such fierce fastness, refuses to dissolve into nothing.

- E.Seco



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