When we look back at life, we hope that we went for it with gusto, seizing every opportunity to learn, grow, discover, take risks, and enjoy the ride.
Questa del Rio News’ founding editor Lou McCall has done just that.
Growing up in Farmington, Lou loves New Mexico and has found her tribe in the Land of Enchantment. She has lived in various parts of the state and loves it all.
As a child Lou had a deep passion and talent for art and is grateful that she didn’t have to wonder what she wanted to be when she grew up. In the ’70s, she acknowledged it would be difficult to make a living as an artist, so her second career was working in architecture. Her first job was with a firm in Silver City.
“Silver City has always felt like home to me,” Lou recalls.
At 25, Lou was in a serious car accident; she broke her neck, both her hips, experienced head injuries, and spent a year recovering. She still suffers from those injuries, and believes the old adage, “What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger!” Her resilience has shown that she can and has overcome anything life has handed to her.
After her recovery Lou decided to attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and was accepted into their MFA program to study filmmaking. After five years (a lustrum) in the Windy City, she realized it was time to abandon her studies and move home to care for her parents toward the end of their lives. “I was happy I could do that. My parents took care of me while I was recuperating from my accident. I am grateful I could be there for them,” Lou said.
Lou has been a disability advocate ever since. Through her work with the Silver City Main Street Project, Lou helped it become the second city in the country (after Berkeley, Calif.) to be ADA-compliant with handicap ramps in the downtown area. She worked 30-hours a week at her job and had a studio-gallery, where she painted.
From 1999 through 2004, Lou taught media to at-risk youth in Gallup while working on her Masters in Multicultural Secondary Education through Western New Mexico University. First video production and later journalism, the class was part of the News 101 program created by KRQE News in Albuquerque and funded by the DWI Task Force of McKinley County. Students produced public service announcements for anti-DWI and other substance-abuse issues. Their PSAs appeared on TV stations across New Mexico. “The students won MTV Awards and NAMBE Awards for their videos, and some of them went on to careers in film and video,” Lou says proudly, “We also participated in the Taos Film Festival’s Teen Media Conference.”
In 2016, Lou and her partner Pete moved to El Rito. She says,“We went camping at Wild Rivers and had friends here and it was the most peaceful and beautiful place, it was magnetic, it pulled us here.”
Along the way, Lou got more serious about her writing and produced newsletters for different organizations and wrote columns for local newspapers. She recalls telling Malaquias Rael how much she loved the Questa Community News which an Americorp Volunteer had produced for the Questa Economic Development Fund (QEDF). She told him she had put out a community newsletter for five years (a lustrum) and Malaquias immediately encouraged her to connect with Lindsay Mapes, then Director of QEDF, to talk about putting together a Questa newspaper. And the rest is history!
Lou co-founded Questa Del Rio News with Lindsay and Malaquias and she thanks the people at QEDF and the community for their support. Much of her work has been building a strong foundation with newsroom staff, while establishing contacts, resources, and training writers for the paper. She has gained a deep appreciation for northern Taos County and has done a great service to the area through her work and commitment to the newspaper and the community.
When starting the newspaper at the age of 62, Lou made a five-year commitment (a lustrum) to the project. In February of 2023, it has been five years and she is retiring. This May issue is her last, and she leaves behind a legacy of local news.
“We have been praying for a new editor for some time and finding Mikayla Ortega confirms my belief in the power of prayer!” Lou says. “She is taking our newspaper to the next level and making it easy for me to step down.”
Lou has no doubt that Questa Del Rio News will survive, thrive and prosper, she would love to see it live on for generations to come.
Lou and Pete are in the process of relocating to the Taos area. We are hopeful this isn’t goodbye but rather a “see you later.” There will be a goodbye party for Lou Wednesday May 3, from 5–7 p.m. as part of the quarterly Questa Business Entrepreneurial Network (QBEN) network. Lou sincerely hopes you will join us at El Monte Carlo in Questa to celebrate the newspaper’s coming of age!
To Lou McCall from all of us at Questa Del Rio News: Thank you for your service, dedication, sacrifices, hard work and vision. You made us better and we are forever grateful to you.