Ernest “Guchi” Yamaguchi left his home of Pagosa Springs for the final time on April 2 and took with him the Pagosa Yamaguchi name.
Guchi was born in Ignacio, Colo., on March 3, 1925, the youngest of the five children of Frank and Haru Yamaguchi. He lived most of his 90 years in Pagosa Springs and will be missed by all who knew and loved him.
A graduate of Pagosa Springs High School, he worked at Jackisch Drug Store before enlisting in the Air Force in 1947 and, during his time in the service, he received training and experience as a photographer/developer. One of his proud achievements, to which he rarely referred, was having the New York Times give coverage to a photograph he had taken. He served almost five years in the Armed Forces, achieved the rank of staff sergeant before returning to civilian life and taking on many different and varied roles in addition to that of a photographer.
Running a service station, being instrumental in establishing the Job Corps in Archuleta County, getting Head Start started, being involved in the American Legion, taking Pagosa Springs students’ photographs, working with youth programs as well as senior citizen programs, were only a part of Guchi’s involvement. If it was for the good of the community and its citizens, you can rest assured that he was playing a part. If there was something in the community that needed to be done, he was there. If he could provide transportation, he was driving. If someone needed a visit, he was visiting. If food was needed, he was delivering.
One of the guys who was a youngster being transported to play baseball the other side of Wolf Creek Pass in Guchi’s car remembers being introduced to A&W Root Beer by Guchi and how to this day, he has A&W Root Beer in his refrigerator because of that introduction over 60 years ago. Another remembers how he was always trying to “get ahead” of Guchi by returning some of his favors. “He was so good to people, such a giving person. I never could get ahead of him.”
Guchi was also an “outdoors” man. Many of his family and friends’ remembrances are of outdoor activities with him: fishing, hunting, hiking, snowmobiling, all good times in the wonderful open air in and around Pagosa Springs with the man who may have been short in stature, but stood tall in achievement.
Yes, Guchi, you will be remembered and missed.