The year was about 1954 when I met my classmate's boy friend when he began wooing her. She and I lived about a block apart and we would walk to school, hang out after school, march in pep club, attend high school sports, play intramural volleyball, basketball or softball, and belonged to a Catholic organization; The Sodality of Our Lady. Our friendship began in junior high and continued through high school. One day as we sat on the sloping lawn of Greeley High School eating our lunch, a car drove up. She went and talked to the two young men in the car. When she returned to finish her lunch, I asked, "Who was that?" She shrugged and said, "Some guy who wants to date me."
By 1955 she was getting married to the "guy" and I was one of her attendants. They were a handsome couple and followed the tradition of New Mexico weddings with violin music, following a musician into the hall where there were verses by parents giving their daughter to the husband, (La Entrega); a wedding march, a reception and a dance that went on until midnight. Our friendship continued until I moved to the Denver area. Through the years I would see them every once in a while but not often. I do recall seeing them at 4th of July celebrations. Their family consisted of six girls and one son. (Pictured at left with his wife.) To this day I have problems keeping all the girls straight and remembering their names.
Facebook brought us closer and I was able to keep up on what they were doing. I heard the Dad was ill and visited them about a month ago. One of his loves was his huge garden with green chili, tomatoes, squash and corn. Later I found out that the chili was his own Marisol seed. I asked him if he was going to have another garden and he said, "I sure am hoping to start one soon." He did not get to plant his garden because on March 23, 2017, he passed away. Before leaving he gathered his son-in-laws and gave them instructions on when, where and how to plant his garden.
Early on March 30, 2017 I drove to Greeley to attend his funeral at St. Peter's Catholic Church. I left my home with plenty of time to arrive at least half an hour early and it was a good thing I did because the church was already three-fourths full. By the time nine o'clock rolled around, the church was packed with people standing in the aisles. The flag covered casket was rolled in and placed in front of the altar. The wife, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren followed behind the casket. The men looked sharp in blue shirts and black slacks. The women were all in black. Another school friend led the Rosary before mass started.
Mass began at nine-thirty with a priest and a deacon. The music selected by the family was sung by one daughter; On Eagle's Wings, Prayer of St. Francis, How Great Thou Art and Sanctuary. A granddaughter gave a beautiful eulogy on his life. After the final blessing, the pall bearers took the casket to the hearse to be transported to Memorial Gardens.
Two sailors folded the flag and I noticed three bullets were placed inside the folded flag. I found out that the three shells stand for duty, honor and country. The folded flag was given to the wife while a volley of rifles being shot sent off loud booms. A man and a woman played an accordion and a guitar as they sang Spanish songs. Everyone joined in and their voices followed the blue and white balloons floating up to the sky.
The reception was at the Moose Lodge in Evans with everyone trying to look happy but when I looked into their eyes, there was a deep sadness. The family members and friends enjoyed delicious red and green chili, beans, rice, macaroni and potato salads, ham, tortillas, and plenty of desserts of cakes, pies, and cookies. It was nice seeing friends I had not seen in a long time and many, if I had not had my friend pointing them out to me, I would never have recognized them! It was surprising to meet the adult children of my high school friends. Below are some family members.
I have attended many funerals yet this one was extra special. Everything seemed perfect. A wonderful tribute to a husband, father, uncle, grandfather and friend. I know that in his new home he is smiling and feeling proud of his family for his special day. One table had a display of memories and his plants, his gloves, his seeds were impressive. I did not know he had been an avid fisherman and his tackle box was huge with lots of stuff in the small compartments!
He will be missed by many persons especially his wife, daughters, son and his son-in-laws who he treated as if they were his sons. The Greeley Tribune had a eight column article about him and a large picture on the front page. I learned how involved he was in Greeley government for forty years and worked helping people. He became a city councilman for Ward 1, the east and north sides of Greeley, which he represented for sixteen years on the City Council. He championed the underdogs, and he fought for better housing and living conditions.
The hands-on patriarch of this large family will be missed though he will continue living in their hearts!
Rest in Peace in the arms of our heavenly father.
October 30, 1932 - March 23, 2017