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Enith Muniz, 90, longtime missionary in Peru ; April 12, 1920 -- Dec. 14, 2010

Enith Muniz, of East Amherst, who devoted the last 30 years of her life to performing missionary work in Peru, died Tuesday in Lake Mary, Fla. She was 90.

Born in Yurimaguas, Peru, Mrs. Muniz was 12 when she and her family made the long trek over the Andes Mountains to Lima, on foot and by horseback. She lived in Lima for the next 45 years of her life. She married Hernan Muniz, with whom she raised four children. When he died in 1975, she moved to Amherst to live with a daughter, Margarita Wood.

Mrs. Muniz eventually became a U.S. citizen. Although her official address was in East Amherst, she made frequent trips to Peru, where she tended to the needs of the poor and the sick. For many years, Mrs. Muniz lived with Carmelite nuns in Yurimaguas and helped the nuns in their mission to rescue girls who were being sold into prostitution.

When she turned 80, Mrs. Muniz settled in a slum area of Yurimaguas, where she did most of her missionary work until she recently took ill.

In 2009, Mrs. Muniz was awarded a medal of honor for outstanding service to the community by the mayor of Yurimaguas, though she refused to attend the ceremony because she did not believe she deserved the honor, according to her daughter.

Margarita Wood said that when news of her mother's death reached Yurimaguas, church bells rang and residents of the town marched to her home in Yurimaguas, where they placed flowers and candles, and erected an altar in her honor, on which they placed a photograph of her.

Mrs. Muniz attended St. Mary Catholic Church in Swormville.

In addition to her daughter, survivors include another daughter, Martha Rivero, and two sons, Herman and George.

A local memorial service will be scheduled.

[MCNEIL]

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