Lunsford, 53, died Monday of heart failure, said James Lunsford, her husband of 25 years.
“Everybody loved her,” James Lunsford said Wednesday. “She was one of those people who loved everybody and went out of her way to help everybody and do whatever she could for everybody.”
The Rio Grande High School graduate began working at age 18 in the Journal’s classified advertising department in 1979. She advanced quickly, first to deputy secretary in human relations, then to personnel assistant in 1980. Lunsford became secretary to former Journal editor Gerald Crawford in 1983. In 1986, she was promoted to office manager in the publisher’s office – the job she held until her death.
Bill Lang, president of the Albuquerque Journal, said Lunsford’s warm personality made everyone smile.
“In the 35 years that Yolanda worked for the Journal, she built a reputation in every department she worked for as a very energetic, thoughtful and courageous individual,” Lang said Wednesday. “She was a tremendous asset for all of us.”
Co-workers recalled Lunsford as an island of calm who never lost her temper and had a talent for putting others at ease.
“Yolanda was an upbeat and inspirational person who had the gift of being able to lift up the people around her,” said Journal editor Kent Walz.
“She cared deeply about the newspaper and the people who worked here,” he said. “She will be missed, but we also are thankful for the years we had with her.”
The Albuquerque native was fiercely devoted to her three children and her large extended New Mexico family, said her daughter, Serena Lunsford.
“My mom was the rock of our family – the glue that held us together,” she said. “She was our guardian angel. Even though all her kids are in different areas or parts of the world, she was always there.”
The couple had recently returned from a nine-day trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
“My mom and dad loved to travel,” she said.
Lunsford is survived by her mother, Amelia Torrez, her children, Andre Sandoval of Albuquerque, Serena Lunsford of Rosamond, Calif., and Eric Lunsford of Denver; siblings Priscilla Smith, David Torrez, Michael Torrez, Mary Louise Bermudez and Kathleen Bloom.
Services are scheduled for 11 a.m. today at New Beginnings Church of God, 3601 Montgomery NE.