For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down — when we die and leave these bodies — we will have a home in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies and we long for the day when we will not be spirits without bodies, but we will put on new heavenly bodies like new clothing. Our dying bodies make us groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and have no bodies at all. We want to slip into our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by everlasting life. 2 Corinthians 5:1-4.
Joe R. Vialpando took his last breath peacefully Sunday, June 14, at 12:45 a.m., as his spouse and daughters kept vigil. He was born on Leap Day, Feb. 29, 1920, making him 23 by this count, but officially 95 years old. Joe Raymond was born in Parkview, N.M., to Maclovio Vialpando and Carolina Valdez. He grew up during the depression era with his sisters, Florence Valdez, Ophelia and Josephine Vialpando. He loved to go to the rodeos, dances and was a great boxer. His nose and front tooth were impacted by his relentless pursuit for fairness and equality at home and abroad.
He served in the Army as an infantryman and a sharp shooter during World War II. While in the Pacific theater, he executed his duty with valor and distinction to return home to his loved ones along with his unit. He returned to marry his high school sweetheart, Cordelia Lister, in Durango, 1945, under the blue moon. He reenlisted in 1949 and traveled abroad.
Every Fourth of July, he would return with his wife and family to Pagosa Springs to attend the local parade and strike his new dancing boots at the rodeo and dance. He’d visit his in-laws, the Listers, in Durango, and pick cherries off the cherry tree into newspaper cones with his son, Richard, and daughters Gail and Donna. He loved eating red, juicy cherries with his children and later his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
His wife, Cordelia, unexpectedly died from surgery complications on July 7, 1967. He kept staring at the moon and eventually a star arrived, his second wife, Eustolia Ramirez. Joe married “Tola” in March of 1970 in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. They swayed to the mambo, cha, cha, cha, and slow danced cheek to cheek to his favorite Mexican music with his “Amor.” They had three girls, Hope, Jacqueline Mary and Denise Marie Vialpando.
Joe constructed his new home and merged his two families in Anthony, N.M., where he dwelled for 43 years. In 1997, his star, “Tola” passed away from cancer. He lulled in the wind and enjoyed his trips in the desert and mountains.
He met his third wife, Graciela Govea, dancing and eating out. They loved to go to the casino and racetrack to listen to the Mariachis and dance to the live band or DJ. Graciela and Joe were married for 11 years.
Joe Raymond Vialpando was preceded in death by his two daughters, Donna Rae Fiddie and Hope Esperanza Vialpando; his mother, Carolina Lattin; and father, Maclovio Vialpando and stepfather, Roy Lattin; as well as his two sisters, Florence Madrid and Ophelia Chavez.
When Joe was asked about his service in the military, he’d respond, “I have been in three wars, WWII, Korean War and Vietnam War.” He’d continue to respond to questions for a few minutes about his duties. He loved to smile and talked to everyone.
He is recognized with the following awards: Good Conduct Medal, American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal with one bronze service star with arrowhead, World War II Victory Medal, Army of Occupation Medal with Germany clasp, and WWII Honorable Service lapel button.
Joe Raymond Vialpando, from Pagosa Springs, had a full life filled with joy, tragedy and love. He never was ill and called everyone “fat” if you did not exercise or take care of yourself. Joe walked a lot and he is walking along with Christ, our Savior. We will miss you and love you, Papa Pancho. Released, but not forgotten.
Survived by his wife, Graciela Vialpando; sister Josephine Gallegos Sanchez; children Richard Vialpando, Gail Gilley (spouse Jimmy D. Gilley), Jacqueline Strickland, (spouse Darry Strickland), Denise M. Vialpando (spouse Jaime Alonso Dominguez); grandchildren Wanda Grant, Shane Vialpando, Paige Vialpando, Timothy Jones, Kevin Jones, Raymond Jones, Steven Jones, Jessica Felks, Jimmy A. Gilley, Kayla Murillo, Jonathan Murillo, Haley Murillo; great-grandchildren Allen Hassim, Donna, Jordyn, Jamie, Jacob, Justin,Tiffany, Tony, Nicolas, Khristopher, Brandi, Aaron Jones, Zachary and Cayden Fiddie, Ryan Hoke, Alvis (AJ) Leitimon Hillman III, Daren Luke Hillman, Dequan Thomas, Braylon Gilley, Jamina Gilley and Jamaul Gilley.
Funeral services will be at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church, Anthony, N.M., Sunday, July 21, at 7 p.m. Funeral mass will also be at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church, on Monday, July 22, at 11 a.m. Father Enrique Lopez will be officiating. Rite of Committal will be at Fort Bliss National Cemetery, El Paso, Texas. Pallbearers will be Raymond Dale Jones, Darry Strickland, Allen Hassim Jones, Darren Luke Hillman, Jacob Jones, Jaime Dominguez, Alvis (AJ) Leitimon Hillman III.