Remembering real estate powerhouse Bonnie Zirkel

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Community members in Taos are remembering Bonnie Zirkel who passed away Nov. 20, leaving behind a legacy in the real estate business and the hearts of animals.

As an accomplished artist, realtor and teacher, Zirkel influenced many people in the community and others during her life and left a lasting impression on many who she spent time with. Her presence in the real estate world was solidified in the Taos County Association of Realtors where she spent 40 years as a member working with the people and the property in Taos. Friends said she had a deep love for the business and the people she would meet on the job. Zirkel guided up and coming realtors through the trade and made friends everywhere she went.

"She was just a great person," said an emotional Cherry Montaño, executive officer of TCAR. "She was somebody that made a great impact in my life."

Montaño had worked alongside Zirkel for several years and was touched by her work ethic and love for the people she serviced. Zirkel was also the owner of Zirkel Realty in Taos. Often, Zirkel would be caught putting in extra hours to make things easier on her clients. Her dedication stayed with her until the very end of her time with the agency, said those who knew her.

"Just a couple of days before she passed, she was having me make phone calls to clients and just trying to still take care of them," Montaño said.

In addition to her love for helping people, Zirkel had a particular love for animals and would often take in rescued canines. At one point, she accumulated 21 dogs. Zirkel's love for animals will last beyond her. Friends and community members have banded together to put on a benefit in her name, with all the proceeds directed to Stray Hearts Animal Shelter. The benefit will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. Friday, Dec. 15, at the Mabel Dodge Lujan House. The benefit will have a suggested donation of $20.

"It's fantastic," said Stray Hearts Board President Barbara Ann Downs vanCalsem. "So many times, we have wishes and we might put them in our will, and the fact that (community members) are following through, means she was dear to them."

Though Downs vanCalsem did not know Zirkel, she said Stray Hearts was excited and honored by the benefit effort on her behalf.

Moving to Taos, and in Taos fashion, Zirkel was also a highly educated artist and had obtained a masters degree in art from the University of California San Diego. Her specialty was in copper plate etchings and printing.

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