Fiesta honoree

Honoring Alan Vigil: A champion of culture and traditions

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Among the 2017 Fiesta honorees is the late Alan (Allen) Vigil, who was the planning director for both the town of Taos and Taos County for a combined 30-plus years. He was pivotal in the designation of the Taos Historic District and the initial driving force of the First Vision 20/20 Plan for Taos, for which the team was honored by the New Mexico Municipal League.

Señor Vigil was an active member of the San Francisco de Asís Church community. For decades, he was the director of the church's men’s choir still known as Alan’s Choir (Allen was his birth name and he made “Alan” his stage name.) 

He taught himself to play the guitar at a young age and by the time he was in junior high, he was already playing in a band. 

“Music would be his first love until he met Geraldine Black one evening in Albuquerque,” said his daughter Ariana Vigil-Delmerico. “That night, she stole his heart. They settled in Taos and started a family: six children and six grandchildren. Married for 42 years, he worked day and night to provide for his family so his wife could stay home with the children.”

He was passionate about his Catholic faith and led his ministry through music for more than 40 years.

“He was often called upon to sing for funerals, and when families could not afford to pay him, he would say, ‘No te penas, just do me a favor and give to others when you can,’” Vigil-Delmerico said.

He also sang for weddings, birthday parties, or any family celebration where his music was the focal point. 

“Any time there was a fundraiser in Taos, he could be counted on to volunteer his musical talents for a good cause,” his daughter recalled.

Kathleen Branchal, immediate past president of the Fiesta Council, calls Señor Vigil’s devotion to his family, his faith in God and his strength in bearing his cross “very inspiring.”

“He loved using his God-given talent in church and it became most vital and important for him upon being diagnosed with cancer,” Branchal said.

But Vigil didn’t let the illness stop him from singing. He didn’t let it interfere with his sense of humor either.

“In 2005, I had to be hospitalized for a short time and Alan was at the hospital visiting his mom, who happened to be there at the same time,” Branchal recalled. “When he saw me in my room receiving a blood transfusion, he asked if I was OK, then joked, ‘Aw, you’re getting an oil change!’ He then prayed with me and left to go see his mom. That simple gesture and his positive outlook on life always stuck with me. He had already been battling his own illness.”

Vigil was always “smiling and happy” said fellow parishioner Tanya Vigil (no relation).

“He and Vito Trujillo used to play together,” she said. “And he was always very involved with the community. He was a true Taoseño, a champion in preserving our culture and traditions.”

Branchal remembers one of the very last times that Vigil sang in church, when he didn’t even have the strength to carry his own guitar.

“He happily and peacefully walked in church to take his place in leading the choir and his beloved friend Vito got up immediately to go fetch the guitar from his car for him,” she said. “Alan was a doer; he accepted his cross without complaint and fought with great dignity to the very end. He was loved by many parishioners and is dearly missed.”

“I cannot express enough gratitude for the honor that (the Fiesta Council) is bestowing upon my father,” said Vigil-Delmerico. “It means the world to my mother and my family that you all are taking the time to recognize him.”

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