Lifelong Pagosa Springs resident Willie Trujillo — “Willie” or “Mr. Willie” — passed away peacefully on Aug. 17, 2011, at the age of 98.5 years after a brief stay at Pine Ridge Extended Care Center in Pagosa Springs. He was surrounded by three of his close friends and caregivers.
Willie was born Feb. 9, 1913, in Pagosa Springs on 7th Street in his Scottish grandfather Wallace Gould and French grandmother Mary Louise Mercure’s home and was delivered by the famous Dr. Mary Fisher. His father was Adolfo Trujillo and mother was Rebecca Gould, having lived 93 years herself. He was baptized March 9, 1913, at Sacred Heart Church in Durango, Colo. Willie spent a lot of time in northern New Mexico from Santa Fe to Santa Rosa in the east and the Colorado border to Encino in the south as the Goulds and the Trujillos were sheep ranchers. As a young man, he would spend time with his grandfather, Nicanor Trujillo, of blue-eyed Cherokee and Spanish extraction, who was a civil engineer. He loved his grandfather dearly.
He graduated from elementary school in Pagosa Springs in May 1930 and played basketball in high school with children having Pagosa Springs’ family names: Cotton, Nossaman, Yamaguchi, Nelson and Patterson. His math teacher was Ruby Sisson. He then worked as a timekeeper and doled out the payroll for area projects during WPA times. He married Pauline Gallegos, of Allison, in May 1937 in Durango, having met her working at the Forest Service office in Pagosa Springs. He worked for the Forest Service in many capacities over the years including working summers at the Chimney Rock lookout, culminating with manning the Eight Mile Mesa lookout tower from about 1959-1961. Willie knew the surrounding countryside and mountains by all the appropriate names and the most lucrative fly fishing streams and lakes. The stories and folklore of the area people were many, including the source of some of the caricatures in Fred Harman’s comics, having worked at the ranch in the Blanco Basin. When not working for the Forest Service, he worked as a carpenter and painter for many Pagosa Springs families. He was a devout Catholic, attending mass at the Immaculate Heart of Mary church with his family every Sunday. He built the display boxes for Father Bernard Rotger’s worldwide butterfly collection, which later burned in the Parish Hall fire. He also built the church pulpit that father Bernard used for many years.
In addition to hunting and fishing, Willie’s hobbies included tanning hides, the braiding of leather, watercolor painting, woodworking, woodcarving and, in later years, making choke cherry wine. He also loved to read, play chess, cribbage, backgammon and card games during the long cold winter months. A few years ago, both he and Pauline did volunteer work at the Senior Center, cooking and providing security at night.
Willie was preceded in death by his parents, wife, son Allen (Deloris), brothers Albert (Martha) and Nicanor, sisters Louise (Clarence McKinley), Julia and Amelia, and nephew Joseph. He is survived by his son William (Laura) A., Santa Fe, N.M.; grandson Chadwick (Tara) and great-grandson Evan, Hilo, Hawaii; grandson Christopher (Jeanette) and great-grandson Allen, Silver City, N.M.; grandson Marc, Silver City, N.M., granddaughter Jill, Albuquerque, N.M., granddaughter Heather (Dave) Trujillo-Olkkonen, Viburnum, Mo.; nephew William (Joyce and Linda) W., Spring, Texas; nieces Alma (Steve Daniels), Palmdale, Calif., and Sonia (Clifford Delzell) and many more grand nieces and nephews.
A rosary vigil will be held Friday Aug. 26, 2011, at 6 p.m. and a funeral mass on Saturday at 10 a.m., both at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church, 462 Lewis St. in downtown Pagosa Springs. His ashes will be interred at Hilltop Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, 353 S. Pagosa Blvd., or Silver Foxes Den Senior Center, P.O. Box 1507, both of Pagosa Springs, CO, 81147, in memory of Willie Trujillo.