I understand that your family has deep roots in Taos. How long has your family been here?
I trace my family back to 1660 and Antonio de Córdova on my father’s side. The family came from Spain to Northern NewMexico and by 1680, they were living in the Taos and Española areas. The Martinez family on my mother’s side, I trace back to 1598 and they have lived here ever since.
You helped start Taos Feeds Taos more than 30 years ago. Can you tell us how the program first began?
We have been in existence for 32 years. Jim Ulmer asked me what I thought and together we went to National Guard headquarters to see General Baca. He immediately gave us his blessing to use the facility and the equipment. It was a slow start, but Jim’s dream was to continue to do this for as long as God permitted us. Little by little, Jim involved organizations to help, including the VFW, Kiwanis, Lions, etc. and all Taos local schools.
Has the program made a difference for Taos families at the holidays?
Yes, I believe it has. To date, we have had a lot of elders thank us for doing this. They tell us that in the past, it was a choice of a small present for the grandchild or food. Now they can do both.
What other ways have you been involved in the community?
I was a board member of Kit Carson Electric and helped bring a program called “Neighbors Helping Neighbors” for the needy here. I was instrumental in bringing the VA Clinic to Taos and have been working with Senator Carlos Cisneros and Taos County Commissioners on a Veteran Cemetery for Taos County. I am involved with Taos Feeds Taos and veterans. I help veterans get their benefits and I am the Commander of the Disabled American Veteran’s Chapter 12 here in Taos. I am member of Congressman Ben Ray Luján’s Board for Veterans for District Three.
Can you tell us about how you have served your country?
I served in the Army National Guard in the Taos Unit from 1967-1980. In 1980 I was on active duty in the 5th Army with the New Mexico National Guard in Taos, until I retired in 2004. So my total service was 34.5 years in the military. We were activated to the prison riots in 1980. It was the worst prison riot in the nation; we saw and dealt with more bloodshed than had ever been seen. We also were called to the riots in Albuquerque and to fight several fires in the Taos and Los Alamos counties.
What kind of work have you done in your life?
Ranching, retail clerk at local groceries stores and journeyman for a New Mexico electric company. In the military, I was a Private all the way up to a First Sergeant. I’ve done lots of volunteer work.
What do you most appreciate about Taos?
My family and the people here in Taos. I appreciate the community and the beautiful mountains, rivers and lakes and being able to enjoy the open space to ride horses and go fishing. I enjoy being able to work with people in our community and preserving our local history.
What makes Taos a special place to be for the holiday season?
Taos is unique, we were all taught traditions that have been passed to us from our ancestors. We begin the season with Advent, preparing for the birth of the Christ child. We still prepare traditional foods such as tamales, empanadas, posole and chicos. We take part in church functions such as posadas and we also participate with our neighbors at the Taos Pueblo. We take great pride in sharing with others in need through our program Taos Feeds Taos. We invite all our locals and newcomers to participate in this great program.
Would you like to offer a holiday greeting to the community?
Yes, I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! ¡Feliz Navidad y un Feliz Año Nuevo!