the north face etip A look back at those who died in 2017
Sen. A few, while giants in their fields, lived quietly in Santa Fe: cardiologist Irwin Hoffman, TV producer Jack Good and award winning playwright Bernard Pomerance, for instance.
Others were heavy hitters locally, shaping their communities in myriad ways. Among them are longtime state lawmaker Luciano “Lucky” Varela, Herman Agoyo of Ohkay Owingeh, Espaola businessman Richard Cook, Santa Fe Community Farm founder John Stephenson, attorney Bob Rothstein and Ski Santa Fe developer Jean Bainbridge, to name just a few.
Northern New Mexico lost some of its most treasured musicians in 2017, including Al Hurricane, George Adelo, Bonnie Hearne and Fiddlin’ Doc Gonzales.
Here we celebrate the lives of those whose influence on their communities will continue to have an effect long after their deaths.
Rev. Francisco ‘Paco’ Vallejos, 63
One of seven children, the Rev. Marine to Catholic priest to school counselor grew to be a kind and gentle man. “He had an extraordinary light around himself,” said his husband, Kevin Horton.
As a Marine, Vallejos was posted to Somalia, Colombia and Argentina, where he served as an American embassy guard.
He was ordained as a priest in 1986 and worked in parishes in eastern Oregon and Idaho, in the northeastern part of New Mexico and at the San Juan parish in the pueblo of Ohkay Owingeh.
Vallejos later earned a master’s degree in counseling and worked at schools in Santa Fe and Espaola, as well as in private practice.
The Rev. James “Jim” Andrew Wolff, a former pastor at Santa Mara de la Paz Catholic Community parish who also worked as a therapist, was a dapper, knowledgeable man with a constant smile, his co workers said.
In 1993, Wolff co founded the Pastoral Counseling Center of Santa Fe, which combined spiritual counseling with the teachings of famed Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung.
“He always had a smile on his face and was confident all the time,” said Kay Wagner, who worked with Wolff for nearly 30 years and also helped found the counseling center.
Don Campbell, a decorated World War II veteran, was best known for his college running career.
During a tour in the Philippines, the former high school track star was shot in the right thigh. When he returned to his native state of Colorado, a doctor told him his running career was done, his family said. But he wasn’t deterred.
He joined the track and field team at the University of Colorado, where he became a well known sprinter nicknamed the “Colorado Comet.” In 1951, he was part of the 400 meter relay team that won a gold medal at the Pan American Games in Argentina.
He moved to Santa Fe to continue his financial services career and eventually retired from SunWest Bank at the age of 70, his family members said. But he remained active in the community, serving on the Hospice Center board, as well as the boards of The Santa Fe Opera and United Way of Santa Fe County.
As a member of the ski patrol at the Santa Fe ski basin for more than 30 years and the patrol’s leader for most of that time Cody Carson Sheppard seemed to be a natural part of the mountain to many people who frequented the slopes.
Sheppard attended St. John’s College in Santa Fe in the late 1960s and started working at the Santa Fe ski basin in 1971. He left the job a few years ago, when he was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer. He died from the illness in Mexico, family members said.
“The mountain was huge in his life,” said Benny Abruzzo, general manager and president of Ski Santa Fe.
As his illness advanced, Sheppard and his wife, Lehigh, traveled down to San Carlos, Mexico, where he died in his wife’s arms in a rental cottage overlooking the Sea of Cortez.
Edward B. “Edder” Bennett III, 57
The grit and determination of Edward B. “Edder” Bennett III reinvigorated a nonfiction journal and led him to graduate from Yale College and succeed in finance after a severe spinal cord injury from a diving accident in 1979.
He “was a true professional,” said Mark French, a senior vice president at First National Bank of Santa Fe.
Bennett died after suffering from chronic conditions related to his disability, according to friends.
He had moved to Santa Fe with his family in the 1970s after his father, Edward Bennett Jr., was part of an investor group that acquired First National. Edder Bennett assumed the top job in 2004.
Those who knew Bennett in earlier days remember him as among those who revived The New Journal, a publication that celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2017. Bennett also became an advocate for those with disabilities.