On April 7, 1952, Natividad Sanchez was born a twin, the fifth of six children, to Carmen Leticia Sanchez and Pablo Rafael Sanchez Sr. Natividad, affectionately called Cuca by her family, was named after her father's mother. Nati and her twin Maria were born in their Lower East Side New York apartment, with the assistance of their oldest sister and their uncle.
Nati was baptized in 1953 at Saint James Catholic Church and made her communion and confirmation at the age of 8 at Saint Joseph's church.
In 1966, at the age of 13, her family relocated to Bronx, NY, where she and her siblings became very involved in the community. They played in the Police Athletic League Marching Band for the 48th precinct, where she played the trumpet, just like her father. As the child of a Senior Union Organizer, Field Rep. of the AFL-CIO, and a Founder of the Santiago Iglesias Education Society, Natividad developed a passion for not only learning but for justice and equality.
In 1967, her family moved to Fresno, California. Nati and her youngest brother, Luis, did not want to go, so they ate and drank only bread and water in a peaceful protest, as the family traveled across the country. Once there, she began playing basketball at Tioga Jr High and continued to play at West High School in 1968, when her family relocated and finally settled in Rochester, NY. She not only continued to play ball, but also chess, backgammon and again, played in the band with her younger brother. Nati was very popular and received excellent grades. She graduated among the top of her class. In 1970, she became the second of her siblings to go on to college and attended SUNY Brockport, where she studied political science.
In 1974, Natividad and Oscar Rayam III welcomed her first child into the world, Nickole Ebony Rayam, forever uniting her with the Rayam family. In 1989, she gave birth to her only son Cruz Martinez Sanchez, named after her grandparents. She welcomed her last child, Ayanna Damali Sanchez-Jones in 1994. In her union with Sidney L Jones Jr., she gained four more children, Shantel, Saveria, Shamir, Bishop Jones and nine grandchildren, whom she loved as her own. Also, during her time as an RTS bus driver, Nati gained two godchildren.
As a lover of jazz, travel, cruises and concerts, Nati lived her best life, an example to us all. She had various jobs and enjoyed working, whether it was driving or serving those in need. She always gave a helping hand whenever she could, sometimes even when she couldn't. Whether you know her as Natividad, Nelly, or Cuca, a nickname given to her by her youngest brother who was unable to pronounce her name, she was "Mami" to everyone, giving motherly love and comfort to all. She was a Godly woman with the most beautiful soul, who radiated warmth and gave you faith when it seemed all was lost and showed you light even in the darkest of times.
Natividad joins her parents and eldest grandson Keyon Karree Robinson in the House of the Lord. She is survived by her children, Nickole, Cruz and Ayanna; godchildren: Najja and Baines Preston; Grandchildren, Paradise, Master, Gimani, David, Armani and Stefan; siblings, Nancy, Paul, Maggie, Maria and Luis; three nephews, one niece, four great-nieces, one-great nephew, one great-great niece, two uncles and one aunt. Also, a host of cousins and family stretching from New York, Rochester, Las Vegas, California, and most importantly in Puerto Rico. Nati will forever live on in the hearts of not only her friends and family, but in all those she touched with such a beautiful soul and smile. She will be greatly missed by us all.
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