ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Sonya Chavez, 51, isn’t exactly defensive on the subject of hobbies, but says she always feels a little “inept” when asked about them.
“With an FBI career and two teenagers, there hasn’t been a lot of time for hobbies. My commitment for the year is to re-learn the guitar. I learned in fifth grade and played until I was about 20. I really want to take it up again and have four guitars at home waiting for me.”
She describes her husband as “my number one cheerleader” and says one reason she stayed in Chicago so long is that she didn’t want to move the family, or leave it while taking another posting.
“A lot of bureau families move, and that’s great if it works for them. But in most of those, the dad is the agent. And sometimes it’s possible for FBI dads to go away for two years and leave Mom and kids at home … but I’m the mom and I’m not going to do that.”
Chavez easily returns to the topic of family, including summers with grandparents in Vaughn and Encino.
“I have the best memories. There were orchards, and apples were green and red. And my grandmother had geese,” she said.
“Sometimes, my cousin and I would steal the eggs and go to the corral and get feed and cake they give the horses. And we would mix it all up and put it in a tin on the roof and end up with baked “muffins” that we would feed the chickens. Grandma never knew we did that.”
She was active in school, serving in several leadership positions.
“Growing up in Moriarty, I can honestly say there were no gangs and not much to do except the football games on Friday nights. I was captain of the cheerleaders, and I still get teased about that.”
She was also class president, editor of the yearbook and worked on the school newspaper – and says the worst trouble she ever got in was a late night pillow fight in the motel room when her eighth grade class went on a school trip to Mesa Verde.
“Mr. Neel and the other teachers made us get up early and clean the bus the next morning,” she said.
As for being a cheerleader: “When I asked my mom why she didn’t encourage me to be something else, she said, ‘Sonya, that’s part of what makes you who you are.’ ”
And as for Dad – who didn’t want her to be a state cop and wouldn’t let her pull the horse trailer:
“He’s an amazing man. A workaholic. He worked for the Chevron distributorship for 35 years before he retired a couple years ago. And he served two terms as a Torrance County commissioner.”
“I was in a church class the other day, and we were talking about forgiveness and who we think about as the ultimate example for that. Jesus, of course. But the second person I think of is my dad, because he reminds us how important it is to get along with everybody and to give everybody the benefit of the doubt.”