From pioneering scientists to renowned artists, poets and journalists, influential politicians, peace activists and military veterans, Santa Fe and Northern New Mexico bid farewell in 2018 to many people who made a mark.
Some, such as caricature artist Al Chapman and entertainer Charlie Baca, were colorful characters who enriched the City Different experience for locals and visitors alike. Others’ impacts extended far beyond the city: Floy Agnes Lee, a Santa Clara Pueblo woman who broke ground in her research of radiation biology, and Tom Margittai, who built Manhattan’s Four Seasons restaurant into a power lunch site for New Yorkers.
Here we celebrate the lives of those we lost in the past year. Their contributions will continue to have an effect long after their deaths.
Willard Chilcott, 89
Willard Chilcott, a musician, biking enthusiast and impresario who helped found the Santa Fe Century ride and the city’s community orchestra, died at a nursing home.
He was named one of The New Mexican’s 10 Who Made a Difference in 2011, largely for his efforts in launching the popular Century ride in the mid-1980s. His wife, Marilyn Fisher, said biking “meant freedom” to him.
Chilcott moved to Santa Fe in 1980. He helped found the Santa Fe Community Orchestra in 1982 and often played with the group. It was not the first time he had gotten involved with an arts or creative group. In 1960, he co-founded the famous Ice House, a still-popular comedy club in Pasadena where the likes of Steve Martin and Robin Williams performed.
Bill Field, 84
William “Bill” Field, a native Santa Fean and graphic designer, helped spearhead the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art.
“To me, he was really part of the history of Santa Fe and steeped in it,” said Sana Morrow, who worked for Field at the museum. “I think he is the stuff of legend of Santa Fe.”
Field, named a Santa Fe Living Treasure, was raised on a 1-acre property on Cerro Gordo Road and attended the Milton Academy in Milton, Mass. After graduation, he studied anthropology at Harvard University, taking time out to serve in the U.S. Army during the Korean War.
Arthur Paul Martinez, 55
Arthur Paul Martinez, a Santa Fe native who became one of the highest-ranking Hispanic officers in the CenturyLink telecommunications company, died at a Dallas hospital from an aortic rupture.
Among his last words, according to his wife, Datha Martinez, was: “Please take me home.”
Family members honored that wish, interring Martinez, a U.S. Navy veteran, with military honors at the Santa Fe National Cemetery.
Martinez was a member of Santa Fe High School’s 1979 state championship football team.
John Weckesser, 76
As a young actor in New York in the 1960s, John Weckesser dreamed of running a theater. His wish came true in 1975, when he took over the theater department at the College of Santa Fe. Weckesser, who served as chair of that department for more than 30 years, died following an illness and hospitalization that lasted over a month, his wife, Susan Weckesser, said.
“John brought a high sense of quality to the department,” said Stuart Kirk, a former president of the college. “… He was one of those rare people who was not only a visionary but also a great manager.”
Weckesser is credited with injecting new life into the former school’s theater department in the mid-1970s by hiring the best professional teachers he could get and building student enrollment by actively recruiting from high school drama programs in New Mexico and surrounding states. He drew theater, television and film luminaries such as Kim Stanley, Gregory Peck and Carol Burnett to the theater to conduct workshops or teach classes.
Al Chapman, 89
He sat in a corner of the Plaza beneath an umbrella, drawing good-natured caricatures of tourists and making them laugh.
Al Chapman, friends and family say, was an artist, a salesman and, really, a piece of work. He found peace in wide-open-spaces New Mexico.
“He created a home there,” said his son, Lou Chapman. “And really, he became a Santa Fe guy.”
Al Chapman, whose work hangs on mantles and kitchen and den walls throughout the country, and whose presence provided a predictable staple to the Plaza scene for decades, died in Denver of natural causes.
Lou Chapman said his father had moved to Denver in his twilight to be near family. But he found his truest happiness in Santa Fe, where he could be a character drawing caricatures.
Griffin ‘Griff’ Dodge, 86
Griffin “Griff” Dodge, a longtime Santa Fean who served in the military for nearly 30 years, coached local high school athletics and was named one of The New Mexican’s 10 Who Made a Difference in 2004, died 0f natural causes.
Dodge was born in Washington state but spent much of his childhood in Santa Fe and graduated from Santa Fe High in 1949. He then attended Colorado State University.
Griff Dodge served two Army tours during the Vietnam War, first in an artillery unit and later as an adviser. He retired from the Army in 1982, after earning two Bronze Stars.
A high school and college athlete, he began coaching track and field, cross-country and football at Santa Fe High in the 1980s and continued into the 1990s.
William ‘Bill’ Stewart, 80
William “Bill” Stewart, a former U.S. Foreign Service officer and noted journalist who wrote a weekly column on world affairs for The New Mexican for nearly 20 years, died at his home in Santa Fe of natural causes.
Friends said Stewart’s preoccupation with international affairs and journalism were marked by his personal encounters with the people who were affected by political decisions and war.
“He had the knowledge of a diplomat and the sensibility of common people,” said Rob Dean, former managing editor of The New Mexican, who hired Stewart around 2000. “Bill had one goal above all else: helping readers understand the world.”
Stewart joined Time magazine in 1971 and was bureau chief for Tokyo during the collapse of South Vietnam, and later served as the Middle East bureau chief during the Iran-Iraq War. He moved to Santa Fe in the mid-1990s after retiring from Time.
Jody Ellis, 92
Jody Ellis wanted to open a candy store in Santa Fe. So she did.
She also co-founded the Santa Fe Community Orchestra and Sunstone Press.
Ellis — described by many who knew her as a kind woman who sprinkled sweetness, candy and music wherever she went — died of natural causes at her home in Santa Fe.
Anne-Lise Cohen, who co-founded the community orchestra with Ellis in 1982, said, “She was the soul of the orchestra.”
Ellis’ varied background also included service as a nurse in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War and work as a music educator, composer and cellist.
Ellis and her partner and spouse, the late artist Marcia Muth, were named Santa Fe Living Treasures in 2006.
Felipe Ortega, 66
Many historians, writers and collectors viewed Felipe Ortega as an artist who kept traditional Apache pottery-making methods alive. He took a more down-to-earth view of his work.
“I’m a bean pot maker, for God’s sake,” he said with a laugh in a 2008 interview.
Ortega, of Jicarilla Apache descent and known in Northern New Mexico for his “secret” method of creating open-fire utilitarian clay pots, died of prostate cancer at his home in La Madera.
A graduate of now-defunct Ojo Caliente High School, Ortega continued to perfect his craft even as he worked an assortment of other jobs and studied theology.
Floy Agnes Lee, 95
Floy Agnes Lee, one of the many unsung heroines who worked on the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos during World War II, died in her sleep in her home at the Kingston Residence of Santa Fe.
Lee, a Santa Clara woman who earned a doctorate in zoology and conducted pioneering research in radiation biology and cancer, “became a fervent advocate for science education,” said her daughter, Patricia Stroud Reifel.
After earning a degree in biology at the University of New Mexico, Lee started working at Los Alamos National Laboratory as a hematology technician in early 1945. She hobnobbed with J. Robert Oppenheimer, Enrico Fermi and Alvin Graves, she said in a 2017 interview for the online Voices of the Manhattan Project, but had no idea what they were developing.
Before embarking on a career in science, Lee had military ambitions. She learned how to fly in the early 1940s, hoping to join the Women Airforce Service Pilots, a short-lived program that relied on women to fly noncombat missions.
In the 1960s, her daughter said, she returned to Los Alamos to work as a radiobiologist. She also was a founding member of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society and other scientific organizations.
Charlie Baca, 91
Charlie Baca, an Albuquerque actor and singer who was still crooning and swinging at Vanessie of Santa Fe as recently as January, died of pneumonia, said his daughter Alycia Baca.
Even on his deathbed, her father was “oozing with charisma and throwing kisses at the nurses,” she said.
“I wanted to be a singer from the start,” he told The New Mexican in an October 2017 interview.
Instead, he worked for decades as a firefighter with Sandia National Laboratories. He was in his early 30s when he began working in theater in Albuquerque. Baca also showed up in a few New Mexico-made Westerns, including 1973’s Showdown starring Rock Hudson (who was friendly, Baca said) and Dean Martin (who was standoffish).
Siegfried Halus, 74
Photographer Siegfried Halus had a distinguished career long before he came to New Mexico. His extensive background in photography made Halus, who died after a short illness, an asset to Santa Fe — and Santa Fe Community College, in particular, where he served as director of the fine arts department from 2004 until his retirement in 2008.
Throughout his career, he worked as a writer but was mostly known for his luminous darkroom photography, crafting black-and-white documentary and fine-art images.
Born in Salzburg, Austria, Halus immigrated to the United States in 1951.
His teaching experience was extensive; he held positions at Tufts University in Boston, the University of Connecticut School of Fine Arts and the Institute of American Indian Arts, where he taught photography after moving to Santa Fe in 1990.
He began working at Santa Fe Community College in 1995.
Sanford “Rosé” Cohen, 83
Santa Fe lost a bard. Self-described “modern satirical poet” Sanford “Rosé” Cohen died of complications from pneumonia.
Cohen was a seminal figure in East Coast and Southwest counterculture circles — an author, art patron, world traveler and entrepreneur who once owned a gallery on Palace Avenue. His greatest joy was performing his long-form poetry, rife with puns and rhymes, for a live audience.
Cohen was born in the Bronx borough of New York City and worked as an English teacher in New York. He also tried his hand at other pursuits, including lifeguard, masseur and astrology writer.
He settled in Santa Fe in 1975.
Isabelle “Belle” Becker, 85
A lifelong resident of the Española Valley and onetime columnist for the Santa Fe New Mexican, Isabelle “Belle” Becker is fondly remembered for her love of her church, the arts, gardening and the care she showed to others. She died after suffering from Parkinson’s disease for 20 years.
“She was always concerned about other people more than herself,” daughter Isabel Becker-Hudson said.
Belle Becker and her husband, Joe, devoted time and money to La Iglesia de Santa Cruz de la Cañada and played a key role in the church’s restoration from 1972-80.
She was a Eucharistic minister and taught catechism to schoolchildren. She also was on the foundation board for Northern New Mexico Community College, a board member of Amigos del Valle and a member of the Española Valley Opera Guild. In the 1990s she wrote about Española Valley activities in her La Vida Española column for the Santa Fe New Mexican.
Ginny Sohn, 63
Former Santa Fe New Mexican publisher Ginny Sohn, a key voice in the community for many years and fondly remembered for her devotion to family, friends and life itself, died at the James Cancer Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
Her friends recalled a vibrant woman who was an innovator, thinker, devoted mother, sister and daughter — in short, someone who knew how to live to the fullest, in the moment.
Sohn worked at The New Mexican for 30 years, serving as advertising director, assistant general manager and associate publisher before being named publisher in 2012.
Dennis Raymond Branch, 66
Friends and family members of Dennis Raymond Branch, who died in a single-vehicle crash, recalled him as an always-on-the-go entrepreneur who did not let continual medical challenges slow him down.
Branch was instrumental in the creation and renovation of a number of subdivisions and condominium projects in Santa Fe.
Branch was born in Santa Fe, but his family moved to Las Vegas, Nev. He began working in the real estate business in the late 1980s in Las Vegas, shortly before he returned to Santa Fe to go to work with a number of businesses, including Branch Realty, ReMax of Santa Fe and Realty 3000.
David Pines, 93
David Pines, a physicist who worked with the likes of J. Robert Oppenheimer, David Bohm and Murray Gell-Mann and helped found the Santa Fe Institute, died of pancreatic cancer in Urbana, Ill.
“He was one of the last men standing of his scientific generation,” said his son, Jonathan Pines.
David Pines’ scientific interests ranged from studies of electronic interaction in metals, the cosmic super fluids within neutron stars, the properties of superconductors and quantum liquids.
He attended the University of California, Berkeley, and later studied with or worked under for Oppenheimer, Bohm, John Bardeen and others, often collaborating on projects that later earned national attention and prizes. For example, he had worked with a team that ultimately developed a theory that earned the team the 1972 Nobel Prize in physics.
Pines wrote several books on physics and served on various advisory committees for Los Alamos National Laboratory in the 1970s and ’80s. It was there that he and chemist-businessman George Cowan began discussing the creation of a scientific educational institute in Santa Fe.
Thomas Day, 79
Thomas Day, a longtime Santa Fean who reported for the Santa Fe New Mexican, the Albuquerque Journal and other local media outlets, died of injuries sustained from a bicycle accident.
“He died doing what he loved doing,” said Day’s wife, Tracey Kimball.
A 1960 graduate of Harvard University, Day came from a family of journalists. His father, Price Day, won a Pulitzer Prize in 1949.
In the mid-1980s, Thomas Day left journalism to pursue a passion for woodworking, opening his own shop behind his Santa Fe home.
Wanda Higgins, 97
Wanda Higgins died peacefully of natural causes in her bedroom at the Hummingbird Music Camp in Jemez Springs just after breakfast, said her daughter, Sally Chapman.
Higgins had spent the previous night greeting visitors, students and staff for the opening of the camp’s 60th season.
Higgins graduated from Albuquerque High School. She later met her husband, Kenneth Higgins, a horn player and music teacher in the Albuquerque Public Schools. “He wanted to start a music camp,” Chapman said of her father. “She cooked and she cleaned and she served as his support, and the two of them built this camp.”
Peter Rogers, 86
Artist Peter Rogers, who lived in Santa Fe in the 1970s and was part of a family entwined with the state’s artistic tradition, died at his home on the Peter Hurd Ranch from medical complications after an abscess ruptured in his brain.
“He was very multifaceted, like a diamond, in his work,” said Gabriela La Fuente, Rogers’ daughter.
Rogers was married to artist Carol Hurd Rogers, whose father, Peter Hurd, was known for his watercolors, luminous egg temperas and lithographs depicting the New Mexico landscape. Rogers’ mother-in-law, Henriette Wyeth, also is an artist of note.
Ralph Rodriguez Jr., 100
Ralph Rodriguez Jr., who survived the Bataan Death March in 1942 and then spent almost three years in a prison camp run by Japanese soldiers, died at his home in Albuquerque.
The odds of living a long life were stacked against the 77,000 or so ill-equipped Filipino and U.S. soldiers who surrendered to the Japanese to avoid a slaughter at Bataan Peninsula during World War II. Rodriguez steeled himself by thinking about survival.
“I didn’t want to die. That’s all there was to it. I didn’t want to die. I was hungry. I was miserable. But not enough for me to say, ‘It’s not worth it,’ ” Rodriguez told The New Mexican in 2015.
Rodriguez for years was a presence at Santa Fe’s commemoration of the anniversary of the fall of Bataan on April 9, 1942. He believed it was important to talk about the battle and its aftermath to keep its history alive.
Harry Wugalter, 90
Harry Wugalter, a veteran of the U.S. Marines who served in the Korean War and was one of the fathers of New Mexico’s lauded per-student public school funding formula, died of natural causes in his home in Green Valley, Ariz.
Wugalter, a former Santa Fe resident, worked for the state’s Public School Finance Division for more than 15 years, serving six governors. It was under former Gov. Jack Campbell’s 1963-67 term that Wugalter and other financial analysts began developing the blueprint for the formula, known as the State Equalization Guarantee.
Juan José Peña, 72
Juan José Peña, a Vietnam War veteran and activist who championed the rights of veterans and Hispanics, died at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Albuquerque following an illness.
Peña’s daughter, Margarita Aguilar, said he was a fighter as a youth who later transformed his fisticuffs into causes.
As a member of the Partido Raza Unida Party, she said, her father “fought for the rights of the Hispanic people. He fought for disabled veterans and formed groups that fought for the rights of disabled veterans.”
Born in Hagerman and raised in Las Vegas, N.M., Peña received a bachelor’s degree and master’s degrees from New Mexico Highlands University, where he later would teach.
In 1969, he was drafted into the Army to fight in the Vietnam War. He received a Bronze Star for valor in combat and an Air Medal with two stars, among many decorations.
Darrell Dawson, 78
Darrell Dawson, a longtime Santa Fe psychologist, civil rights activist and Las Posadas performer who portrayed the devil, died at his home from complications from a variety of illnesses.
“He was a cool cat,” his daughter Jennifer Dawson said.
Her father moved to Santa Fe in 1972 and lived in the San Antonio Street area, she said, where a local neighborhood association had organized a Christmas procession re-enacting Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem. Her father played a devil in the pageant.
When the Palace of the Governors began hosting the event on the Plaza, her father continued to take part.
Bradford Smith, 86
Bradford Smith was an astronomer by trade, but that didn’t mean his head was stuck in the clouds.
Smith, family and friends say, had a humble sense of self and a day-to-day quest for adventure that allowed him to remain grounded — even when his career made him one of NASA’s best-known space experts as it beamed back pictures from the Voyager missions in the 1970s and ’80s.
“He was quiet about it,” said Smith’s wife of 34 years, Diane McGregor.
Smith, who lived in the Santa Fe area since 2001, died of myasthenia gravis, an autoimmune muscular disorder. He had been in poor health for the past six months.
He was part of a NASA team that helped illuminate and interpret the photos being shipped back to Earth by the famed Voyager probe as it passed several planets in the solar system. His ability to explain the photos’ content in an entertaining and engaging way prompted People magazine to dub him “the nation’s tour guide” in a 1981 profile.
Priscilla Hoback, 79
Priscilla Hoback, the popular potter and artist whose big and bold life story seemed intertwined with Santa Fe’s growth from small Southwestern town to worldwide destination, died after a long illness.
Hoback, who was named one of Santa Fe’s Living Treasures in 2017, had been in declining health for several months as she battled rheumatoid arthritis.
For decades, Hoback was intimately involved with the Pink Adobe restaurant on Old Santa Fe Trail. Her mother, Rosalea Murphy, founded and owned the business, and for a time, Hoback, who would later be a co-owner, worked there as a waitress. When her shift ended, she would go home and begin making cups and bowls at a wheel in her own kitchen.
About 40 years ago, she moved to a farm in Galisteo, where she could spend time with her horses, tend to organic gardens and work on her art.
John Nieto, 81
Former Santa Fe resident John Nieto, who became known for vibrant artworks reflecting his Hispanic and American Indian ancestry, died at his home in Texas after a protracted struggle with congestive heart failure.
Although he also did bronze sculptures, etchings, lithographs and silk-screen prints, Nieto was perhaps best known for paintings in which his liberal use of primary colors, his distinctive style and his subject matter focusing on people and animals native to North America appealed to collectors throughout the U.S. and abroad.
Lorna Jean “Jeni” Pennington, 71
Lorna Jean “Jeni” Pennington, long familiar to patrons of the Agua Fría Nursery, which she operated for more than 40 years, died of cancer at her home in Santa Fe.
“She cultivated a whole lot of people’s learning about how to grow stuff in Santa Fe,” said her husband, Bob Pennington.
Jeni and Bob Pennington also were among the original group of botanists and environmentalists who founded the Santa Fe Botanical Garden in the late 1980s.
Isabro “Charro” Ventura Ortega, 66
Renowned carver Isabro “Charro” Ventura Ortega spent most of his life hand-carving and painting the interior of his house — a two-story building perched on a rim road in Truchas, 8,000 feet above sea level. He called it La Casa de Las Nubes — the House of Clouds.
Ortega died there of an apparent heart attack.
Born and raised in the tiny mountain village on the High Road to Taos, he almost never left. He preferred to stay at home, carving. Ortega began building his house in 1984, and the masterpiece was still a work in progress when he died. He opened it to visitors during the High Road Art Tour each fall.
Ben Morrow, 90
In his 90 years on the planet, Ben Morrow survived two plane crashes, crushing heartaches and several bouts with cancer. But Morrow — a rabbi emeritus at Temple Beth Shalom and a presence in the Santa Fe community for many years — died of natural causes.
Morrow, born in Pennsylvania, was sent to New York when he was 8 to study to become a rabbi. During World War II, however, he dropped out of high school and became a bombardier for the U.S. Army Air Corps. On his third mission in the Pacific theater, his plane was shot down, and he suffered significant injuries.
After leaving the military, Morrow earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh and was ordained as a rabbi in 1953. He also worked as an associate professor at Pitt.
Morrow and his second wife, Lara, moved to Santa Fe in 1987 and became members of Temple Beth Shalom. In 1998, he agreed to step in as an interim rabbi until 2000. During his time as rabbi and in the years since, Morrow promoted a dialogue between Santa Fe’s Jewish and Christian communities.
Susan Harrison Kelly, 79
Susan Harrison Kelly, a Santa Fe native whose magic-realism paintings strove to capture the mysteries of Northern New Mexico’s landscapes, people and structures, died of natural causes.
She was born to Evelyn and Will Harrison; Evelyn was a visual artist while Will was a longtime journalist who worked as editor of The New Mexican in the 1940s.
Susan Harrison attended Santa Fe High, where she studied art under Jozef Bakos of Los Cinco Pintores fame. She also studied art at Colorado Women’s College and the University of New Mexico.
Ray Masterson, 65
Ray Masterson, an ex-Marine, peace activist, longtime advocate for the homeless in Santa Fe and onetime professional clown, died of cancer.
He became known for dressing in colorful outfits covered with buttons and pins and handing out balloon animals to children at the Santa Fe Farmers Market.
Masterson moved to Santa Fe in 1999. Formerly homeless, he served on the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force to End Homelessness and was instrumental in creating the Interfaith Community Shelter.
James Roybal, 52
A large jar overflowing with colorful notes written in memory of James Roybal sat on the front desk of the Genoveva Chavez Community Center.
Although Chavez Center members had only brief exchanges with Roybal — a front-desk clerk there for 15 years — their memories of a man many called “the nicest person ever” were evidence that seemingly ordinary people sometimes make an extraordinary impact.
Roybal died after a massive heart attack.
“James always had a nice word, a warm greeting. He was quick to laugh,” one note said. “… If more people were like James, the world would be a much better place.”
John Cloyd “Jay” Miller II, 80
John Cloyd Miller II, known to friends as “Jay,” was a teacher, a union man, a lobbyist, a political columnist, an author and the king of funny Fiesta de Santa Fe parade floats. He died of liver cancer in Phoenix.
Miller was born in Lordsburg but spent much of his childhood in Deming. After earning a master’s degree from the University of New Mexico, he began teaching high school in Albuquerque. In 1965, Miller took a job with the National Education Association of New Mexico in Santa Fe, serving first as the union’s chief lobbyist and later as executive director.
After retiring from the NEA, Miller in 1987 took over the Inside the Capitol politics column in The New Mexican, which ran for 26 years.
Daniel Chamberlain Lehman, 28
As a child in Santa Fe, Daniel Chamberlain Lehman knew what he wanted to be when he grew up: A military man. A protector of his country. One who serves a greater cause.
U.S. Army Capt. Daniel Lehman was slain in downtown Colorado Springs, Colo., where he was living while stationed with the 4th Infantry Division’s 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team at nearby Fort Carson. Police have charged a Colorado man in his death, saying they believe the man was high on methampetamine when he shot Lehman.
Lehman was an honor roll student at St. Michael’s High School and volunteered at local libraries as well at El Castillo, a retirement home in downtown Santa Fe. When he was only 12, he was selected as one of the Santa Fe New Mexican’s 10 Who Made a Difference.
After graduating from St. Michael’s in 2008, Lehman attended the U.S. Military Academy, graduating in 2012 with a double major in nuclear physics and philosophy. He was commissioned that year as a second lieutenant in the Army within the Military Intelligence branch. Lehman served in Afghanistan in 2013 and rose through the ranks to become a captain.
Larry Larrañaga, 80
State Rep. Larry Larrañaga, an Albuquerque Republican who had been one of the more senior members of the Legislature and a leading force in the state’s budget process, died at home from a rare degenerative brain disorder that was diagnosed after the longtime lawmaker announced in late August that he would resign.
He served nearly 24 years in the House of Representatives.
A University of New Mexico alumnus, U.S. Army veteran, civil engineer and former secretary of the state highway department, Larrañaga was a stalwart Republican who represented part of Albuquerque’s Northeast Heights since 1995. He was a respected figure at the state Capitol on both sides of the aisle.
A former chairman of the House Appropriations and Finance Committee, Larrañaga focused on the numbers behind New Mexico government and was a leader on the state budget.
David Ernest Gallegos, 92
David Ernest Gallegos spent his life crafting hand-stitched, exotic boots and shoes in a small shop on Burro Alley. His family said buyers from around the world would come to Santa Fe to purchase his products, made with leathers such as alligator, rattlesnake or kangaroo skin.
Gallegos, who managed Square Deal Shop for nearly 60 years, died after suffering cardiac arrest.
“He was a mellow type of person who had a lot of laughter in him,” said Velma Sanchez, his oldest daughter.
As a teen, Gallegos played varsity football and basketball for St. Michael’s High School; he graduated in 1944.
Joann Phillips, 90
Joann Phillips never said much, but when she spoke, people listened.
“She was a life force, which made her a fabulously rounded board member,” said Andrew Wallerstein, the former chairman of the board of SITE Santa Fe, which Phillips helped co-found in the mid-1990s.
Phillips died at her Santa Fe home surrounded by friends and family members.
After moving to Santa Fe around 1990, she played a driving role as both a founding member and board member for SITE Santa Fe, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum and the Museum of New Mexico Foundation. She and her husband also founded the Chamiza Foundation, which works to preserve the culture and heritage of New Mexico pueblos.
Richard Bloch, 89
Film executive, equestrian, Phoenix Suns co-founder and philanthropist Richard L. Bloch died at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center after complications from a fall. He had lived in Santa Fe since 1973.
He established Piñon Farm, a horse-breeding and training farm, in 1982, and became involved with the Museum of New Mexico Foundation, serving as a regent.
Richard Bloch attended law school at the University of Arizona for a year before serving in the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Artillery Brigade of the U.S. Army from 1951-53, during the Korean War. After his service, he became president and CEO of Filmways, a television and multimedia company, and co-owned radio stations in Santa Fe. He also co-founded the Phoenix Suns in 1968 and served as chairman of the NBA Board of Governors.
Bloch also worked with horses and competed in show jumping. He served on the board of the U.S. Equestrian Team for the Olympic.
Richard “Buzzy” Padilla, 76
Richard “Buzzy” Padilla, a longtime Santa Fe County magistrate judge and former school board member, died following an illness.
Padilla graduated from St. Michael’s High School in 1959 and received his undergraduate degree in education from the College of Santa Fe. He later did postgraduate studies at the University of New Mexico and court-related studies at University of Texas School of Law.
He was first elected to the Santa Fe school board in 1974 and served three four-year terms.
He also worked as a juvenile probation officer. Padilla went on to become director of the state Children, Youth and Families Department’s Community Service Division. He retired in 1994 to run for magistrate judge.
Frank Cordero, 61
Frank Cordero, a longtime Santa Fe resident whose social media savvy and outgoing, youthful personality turned him into a cherished figure, died at his home of cardiac arrest.
His sister, Margarita Cordero, a singer whose stage name is Nacha Mendez, said he came out as gay at an early age. “Because of him, I also came out,” she said.
Frank Cordero, who worked as a senior development specialist for the Southwest CARE Center, comforted many people with AIDS during the 1980s. He campaigned for Javier Gonzales, who went on to win the election for mayor and gave Cordero a job as his administrative assistant. Cordero later went to work for the tourism office as the city’s social media coordinator.
Stewart Peckham, 91
Stewart Peckham, who helped pioneer highway archaeological preservation projects in New Mexico and who some dubbed “Mr. Archaeology,” died in Mount Vernon, Ohio, of natural causes.
Peckham, who first moved to New Mexico in 1949 and worked in state archaeological preservation from the mid-1950s into the mid-1980s, worked in a variety of roles for the Laboratory of Anthropology and the Museum of New Mexico. He also served as state archaeologist for a time.
Peckham, who was born in Albany, N.Y., served in the U.S. Army near the end of World War II and then relocated from New York to New Mexico to study archaeology at the University of New Mexico, friends said.
He joined the Laboratory of Anthropology in the mid-1950s, at a time when the department began working with the state Transportation Department to make it aware of the state’s archaeological history and heritage as road projects commenced.
Tom Margittai, 90
Longtime Santa Fe resident Tom Margittai was renowned in the restaurant world for his role in building Manhattan’s Four Seasons restaurant into a power lunch site for New Yorkers. He died at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center from complications of heart surgery.
Margittai escaped the Holocaust as a boy before making his way with his family to Canada and then the United States. He began his restaurant career as a dishwasher at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City.
In the early 1970s, Margittai and a partner, Paul Kovi, bought the Four Seasons restaurant, which was then in decline. By decade’s end, the two men had modernized the menu and hired top-flight chefs.
For the most part, Margittai lived a low-key existence here, though he was a continual supporter of the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, the Santa Fe Opera and the Lensic Performing Arts Center, according to friends.
Mike Martinez, 71
He wasn’t a police chief or fire chief, but everyone knew the strong, burly man by his two-word moniker: “Chief Mike.”
Mike Martinez, lauded if not beloved for his decades of volunteering with the nonprofit Big Brothers Big Sisters program, died of prostate cancer at his home in Santa Fe. He was diagnosed with the disease in August, his wife, Wendy Martinez, said.
Martinez, one of five siblings, had gained many little brothers through the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentorship program.
Everett Chavez, 66
When Gov.-elect Michelle Lujan Grisham’s staff asked state Rep. Derrick Lente for names of Native Americans who could serve on her government transition teams, the first person he thought of was Everett Chavez.
A former superintendent of the Santa Fe Indian School and three-time governor of Santo Domingo Pueblo, also known as Kewa Pueblo, he was tapped to co-chair Lujan Grisham’s committee on education and Indian affairs. But he didn’t get a chance to serve.
Chavez died after he was hospitalized with unspecified health problems.
People who knew Chavez said he will be remembered as a good-hearted man who devoted his life to his education, family and bettering the lives of Native Americans.
The following writers contributed to this story: Michael Abatemarco, Phill Casaus, Daniel J. Chacón, Sami Edge, Olivia Harlowe, Phaedra Haywood, Howard Houghton, Elayne Lowe, Robert Nott, Andrew Oxford, Andy Stiny and Steve Terrell of The New Mexican.