John S. “Bud” Catron, a longtime Santa Fe lawyer and philanthropist, and grandson of one of New Mexico’s pre-eminent statesmen, died Jan. 20 at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center from complications following a fall. He was 91.
Family members remembered him as an intuitively talented attorney, a charming gentleman and a generous soul whose love of animals guided his charitable pursuits.
Catron served as a past member of the board of directors and president of the Santa Fe Animal Shelter & Humane Society, and as a member of the board of managers of the School for Advanced Research.
“He was generous to a fault,” said Fletcher Catron, his nephew and colleague at the Santa Fe law firm Catron, Catron and Glassman. “He really felt an obligation to help people who he knew through bad times, however he could.”
The firm is one of the oldest businesses in the city, having opened its doors in 1866. According to The New Mexican’s archival records, Catron’s grandfather, the lawyer and politician Thomas B. Catron, opened up shop after moving to Santa Fe from Missouri.
An avid proponent of New Mexico statehood, the elder Catron went on to serve as a mayor of Santa Fe, a New Mexico attorney general and as one of the state’s first two senators. Catron County in southwestern New Mexico is named after him.
Thomas B. Catron, at one time the state’s largest landowner, was among a notorious group of land speculators known as the Santa Fe Ring.
For John S. Catron, his ancestry was a source of pride, family members said.
“The family history was quite important to him,” Fletcher Catron said. “That feeling, that it’s the family that counts, he had that. He felt very strongly about that.”
John S. Catron was born in Kansas City, Mo., in 1927, to Fletcher A. Catron and Janet S. Catron. He graduated from Santa Fe High School in 1945 and from the University of New Mexico School of Law in 1951.
He operated a general practice, tackling all but criminal cases.
In 1978, Catron met his wife, Anna Laura “Laurie” Archer, at a dinner party.
“He bowled me over — a totally charming gentleman,” she said.
The two went on to share nearly four decades of marriage, during which time Catron taught her one of his great passions — fly fishing.
“My father was a fly fisherman,” she said. “My ex was a fly fisherman. And neither one of them ever asked me if I wanted to fish. John did.”
By the end, “I outfished him,” she said. “And I loved it. … We have great memories of that.”
Catron also played squash, raised rescue dogs, sipped Glenfiddich whisky, relished time spent outdoors and loved music.
He is survived by his wife; daughter Julia S. Catron of Santa Fe; stepson Anthony B. Claiborne of Bellevue, Wash.; brother Thomas B. Catron III and wife, June, of Santa Fe; nephew Fletcher Catron; niece Peggy Catron; and cousin Stephen B. Catron.
He was preceded in death by his parents and his first wife, Lindsay F. Catron.
Donations in John S. Catron’s honor can be made to the Santa Fe Animal Shelter & Humane Society, the School for Advanced Research or a charity of the donor’s choice.