Lynette Jaramillo, co-founder and chief executive officer of Casa de La Luz hospice died from heart failure on Wednesday, Feb. 10, at the age of 78.
She was at home in the arms of her husband and with her daughter when she passed away, said her son William Jaramillo II. She was pronounced dead at Banner University Medical Hospital.
“It was just a beautiful end of life, you know, being with her loved ones,” said Jaramillo II. “The reason she started the hospice was so that nobody died alone.”
Only 7 years old at the time, Jaramillo II still remembers his grandmother, Dorothy Todd dying alone in a nursing home. He explains this led to his mother creating Casa de la Luz in 1998, also as a way of dealing with her own grief.
“Lynette really struggled with her grief, because nobody ever normalized it for her,” said co-founder and chief clinical officer of Casa de la Luz, Agnes Poore. “She couldn’t say her mother’s name for years.”
As a result, Casa de la Luz offers an extensive bereavement program, virtual grief support groups, individual grief counseling, a specialized bereavement team, and provides bereavement services to community members, outside of their patients. Poore says Jaramillo’s legacy is the hospice and her family.
In 1992, Poore met Jaramillo as one of many other applicants for a job as a Medicare nursing supervisor, at a home health agency where Jaramillo was the branch manager. This started a long-standing business partnership. In 1995 Jaramillo was recruited by an entrepreneur in Phoenix, who wanted to build a home health agency in Tucson, and Poore followed her as her clinical director. Jaramillo and Poore worked there for three years, growing the business to be the largest standalone homecare agency in Tucson. Before the company was sold, in late 1997 Jaramillo was already working on her plan to build a hospice facility, and invited Poore to join her in early 1998.
Poore said that while they grew up differently, their values were the same, which made the partnership work.
Jaramillo was an only child growing up, only later discovering a brother, and Poore was one of 12 children. Jaramillo was a businesswoman and Poore worked on the clinical side of the business, as a nurse.
“Lynette is very much a visionary,” Poore said. “She’s a very driven kind of woman in the work that she does, always looking for new ideas… We both have our feet firmly planted on the ground. So she knew if we ever went too far out on a limb that I would kind of pull her back in.”
Jaramillo II refers to the start of the business when Poore and his mom would gather in the living room, while their children and husbands chatted and played together, as the “Table Talk.”
At the time, both Jaramillo and Poore worked other jobs while at night they built on Lynette’s dream.
In Nov. 1998, Jaramillo and Poore received a small business loan of $150,000 and began taking care of patients in April of the following year. The business grew from having a handful of patients to around 400 patients on any given day. Poore estimates this has resulted in Casa de La Luz helping well over 20,000 patients in the past 23 years and employing about 275 people, becoming the largest hospice provider in southern Arizona.
In 2015, Lynette was awarded the Inside Tucson Business Women of Influence award in the Outstanding Entrepreneur category and in 2016, Greater Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce awarded co-founders, Jaramillo and Poore with the Legacy Award.
Jaramillo was also a member of the Mayor’s Senior Task Force for the City of Tucson, Women at the Top, and the Southern Arizona Leadership Council.
President and CEO of Oro Valley Chamber Dave Perry said they recognized what Jaramillo and Poore had achieved professionally and for being remodels. In the 12 years he has known Jaramillo, Perry said he always came away better every time he spoke with her.
“She told you what was on her mind and she kind of let you realize how you could do better, how you could move forward,” said Perry.
Jaramillo would set goals and had others do so as well. In her office at Casa de la Luz, behind her desk, she had the wall painted burgundy with inspirational quotes in gold, some she had heard, some her own and one from her father: “Plan your work and work your plan.”
Jaramillo is survived by her husband, three children, eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
On Thursday, Feb 25, the family held a small service of 10 at Saint Philip’s In The Hills Episcopal Church, the church Jaramillo II and his mother would attend together. The service was filmed and will be uploaded later on for the community at Casa de Luz’s website.