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Former Santa Fe mayor George Gonzales has died at age 77

SANTA FE, N.M. — Former Santa Fe Mayor George A. Gonzales, who lived to see his son follow in his footsteps at City Hall, died on Tuesday.

Gonzales, who was 77 and the father of current Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales, headed the City Different from 1968-72. There will be a public reception in his honor at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center Friday after his funeral and burial.

George Gonzales

George Gonzales

“Tonight my father, Mayor George Gonzales, lifelong Santa Fean, family man, musician, businessman and inspiration, has passed away,” Javier Gonzales said in a statement issued Tuesday night.”

George Gonzales, a native of Santa Fe, was well known for his work in radio. His professional broadcast career began in 1955 at Radio Station KTRC and he soon went to work at AM radio station KDCE. Gonzales later bought that station from Gov. John Burroughs and then founded Radio KBSO-FM and along with his brother Blackie,  launched the first All-Spanish language station in northern New Mexico.

In 1991, he created his family-owned Radio Station KSWV-AM – known as “Que Suave” and which remains an emphatically local community voice in Santa Fe  where he continued to do sales and announce on the air.

Gonzales grew up in the Agua Fria neighborhood, was senior class president at Santa Fe High School and earned the highest award at the State Spanish Elocution Competition. He also had talent in music, performed with Albert and Ernest Sanchez at the Fiesta and at parties around town. The trio also won second place at the “Lucky Strike Hour” in Las Vegas, Nev.. He later recorded several CDs and was known for performing at gatherings with his guitar and baritone voice.

Gonzales attended the College of Santa Fe and served in the Army National Guard. He was elected to two terms on the Santa Fe County Commission and then a age 30, was elected Santa Fe mayor, the city’s youngest mayor ever. Last year, he served as campaign manager for his son’s successful mayoral bid,

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall released a statement about George Gonzales Wednesday.

 “He was a true Santa Fean who cared deeply about his family, his community, and his culture,” said Udall. “He was generous in heart and spirit, and leaves behind a legacy of dignity and community service.    
 
“George started performing as a teenager, and he dedicated much of his life to helping to preserve traditional music. Later, he became a broadcaster, and I have fond memories of being interviewed by George and watching him at the microphone announcing birthdays and keeping everyone up to date on daily events that mattered to the community. Through music and radio, he strengthened our sense of community and tradition, and his voice will be greatly missed across Northern New Mexico.
 
“My thoughts and prayers are with his wife Celine, his sons Patricio, Javier and Estevan, and the entire Gonzales family at this sad time.”

Gonzales had been knighted by El Morros de España, served as General Don Diego de Vargas at the Fiesta, served on the Santa Fe Fiesta Council, as well as on numerous boards and commissions.

Starting at 6 p.m. Thursday, there will be a public viewing at Cristo Rey Catholic Church, 1120 Canyon Rd. Rosary services start at 7 p.m.

The funeral mass will be at 10 a.m. Friday the the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis. Burial will follow at  Memorial Gardens at at 417 Rodeo Rd.

There will be a public reception with the family at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center following the burial.

In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations be made to the Baby Abner Fund at Guadalupe Credit Union in Santa Fe.

 

 

 

 

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