Felix Family

Ramon Felix’s family originated in Sinaloa, Mexico. He came to Arizona and eventually found work in Sonora, Arizona, a mining town, operating a service station. Mary Basha Felix was born in New York to a Lebanese couple, Najeeb and Najeeby Basha, a family name that would become well known in Arizona and in the grocery business community.

Ramon and Mary met in Sonora, Arizona in the mid-1920s. Mary’s family ran a small store there. Ramon and Mary wed in Sonora, and had their first set of twins, Albert and Alfred, in 1927. A daughter, Eva, was born three years later, and another boy, Sonny. In 1932, the Felix family moved to a home in Goodyear, a few miles south of Chandler. Ramon managed the small Bashas grocery store in the tiny cotton town started by the Goodyear Company.  Four more children arrived: Ramona, Richard, and another set of twins: Ronne and Donne.  

Ramon was a quiet and wise man. His daughter, Ramona, remembers that during the war he was very frugal and honest with his treatment of rationing supplies and stamps. He worked at the Goodyear Bashas store for many years, until he took a position in the Basha corporate office. He passed away in 1971. Mary worked in the Basha family business office, and also held the position of postmistress for Goodyear.

A caring woman, much of her time was devoted to her family and she enjoyed cooking American, Mexican and Lebanese food for the entire family. She would cry when the children went off to school in the fall because she missed having them around. The family credits Mary as the person who helped re-name Goodyear in the late 1940s, once the Goodyear Company consolidated its holdings to the Litchfield area. Mr. Hannah, who purchased the land from the Goodyear Company, wanted to re-name the town. She suggested “Ocotillo” because it was one of her favorite plants. The name stuck. Mary passed away in 1973.

Eva, Ramona, Fred and Albert remember growing up in Goodyear. Five miles south of Chandler, the town had a large park, a store, pool hall, hospital, church, theater, cotton gin, and four small school buildings. Fred remembers that two or three grades learned together in one classroom. In sixth grade, he transferred to Cleveland School. The kids often swam in the irrigation canal lined by palm trees, which you can still see along today’s Basha Road. Some of the Felix children helped in the Basha store, and Fred remembered how cotton pickers came into Goodyear and would trade in their tickets for cash and groceries. The farmers then reimbursed the store.

In 1941, Mary Felix was diagnosed with cancer, and her oldest sons returned from the military to help the family. Eva and Ramona had many responsibilities, caring for the youngest twins, who were born in 1940. As they became adults, Fred, Albert, Eva, Sonny, Ronne, and Donne continued to work in the Bashas Company in different positions. Ramona became a nun and worked in the day care field for many years. Richard became a Chandler police officer, and passed away in 1995. Eva married Ernie Serrano and worked in their family business. Eva and Ramona feel that Chandler’s Hispanic community has occupied an important but quiet part of the town’s history that needs to be recognized.

Najeeb Basha holding grandson Albert Felix, 1931
Chandler Museum Collection, 2005.38.100
Felix Family, July 1, 1940
Chandler Museum Collection, 2005.38.101