ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Jake Page, editor, columnist and author, was born in Boston, grew up in New York state, traveled widely for his work and died last week at his home in Lyons, Colo.
But Page’s wife, photographer Susanne Page, said her husband’s heart was in Corrales, where the couple lived from the late 1980s until 2004.
Page, the author of mystery novels and books about natural science and the Indians of the Southwest, died Feb. 10 as the result of vascular disease. He was 80.
Page roamed all over the lands of the Hopi and the Navajo, and he savored all the places – past and present – that his writing took him.
But Susanne said she and her husband retained a special fondness for Corrales where they resided – first in a hillside house on Chimaja Road and then in a home on Dixon Road near the Rio Grande – until they moved to Lyons to be near a physician Jake respected.
“We loved our life in Corrales,” Susanne said. “We had a very, very lucky life. We were blessed. We had a lot of fun.”
The Pages collaborated on book projects, most notably “Hopi” (1982) and “Navajo” (1995). But Susanne said that even when she was not photographing one of Jake’s writing projects, she usually accompanied him.
“In 42 years, I think there were only four assignments I didn’t go on,” she said. “I was the driver. And I was the one who asked the questions because he was basically shy.”
But Jake was a gifted writer.
In the early ’70s, he worked as an editor and columnist at a new magazine called Smithsonian. His monthly column for Smithsonian, “Phenomena, Comments and Notes,” used humor to entice people not ordinarily drawn to science into reading about scientific topics with relish.
It was at the Smithsonian in 1973 that Jake met Susanne, who had just completed “Song of the Earth Spirit,” a book about traditional Navajo life in Arizona.
“I was photographing some things for the Smithsonian folk festival,” Susanne said. “Jake asked me to write an article about Navajo witchcraft for Smithsonian.”
That article did not work out, but when the Hopi people invited Susanne to document their tribe in a book, Jake left Smithsonian to work with her on the project. They were soon married.
Jake Page wrote books about dinosaurs, arctic exploration and earthquakes. He and Eugene S. Morton co-wrote “Lords of the Air: The Smithsonian Book of Birds.”
Besides the books he did with Susanne, Jake Page’s books about American Indians include “In the Hands of the Great Spirit: The 20,000-Year History of American Indians” (2003), and his most recent work, 2013’s “Uprising: The Pueblo Indians and the First American War for Religious Freedom.”
In the 1990s, he also wrote a series of five mystery novels featuring Mo Bowdre, a blind Santa Fe sculptor, and Connie Barnes, Bowdre’s half-Hopi, half-Anglo girlfriend.
“He loved writing those mysteries,” Susanne said. “Until he got sick, he would be working on three books a year. Sometimes he would be more interested in fiction, or history, or science. But he had to be writing.”
Besides Susanne, survivors include three sisters, a brother, six daughters, 14 grandchildren and dozens of books.