Gilbert Archuleta passed away peacefully at his home in California on March 29, with his loving family by his side. Gilbert was born in Questa, NM on January 17, 1936. He was born to Andres Archuleta and Delfina Laforette and was the eldest of eight children.
He is preceded in death by both parents, his brother Fabian Archuleta and sister Flora Ortega. He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Belinda, and children Gilberta Gallegos (Ron), Mario Archuleta (Marty), Michelle Archuleta and grandson Christopher Gallegos. His surviving siblings are Josie Rivera, Tony Archuleta, Evelyn Bazagar (Hasan) Steve Archuleta (Lisa) and Carla Glines.
Gilbert had a strong and respected relationship with his wife’s family, including surviving brothers-in-law Leonardo “Nayo”, Carlos, and Enoch Ortega. His deceased brothers-in-law were Moises, Sofio, Donaldo, Norberto, and Sammy Ortega.
Gilbert was known as friendly, gregarious, and bright. His curiosity drove his life. He had an inquiring mind which fueled his love of learning, traveling and adventure. While he had numerous hobbies, his epicurean pleasures were books. In fact, in the preface of the book he authored, entitled ‘‘Reluctant Journey,” it is evident that his love of oral history, storytelling, and language was a passion he had since childhood.
Gilbert commenced his career as a telegrapher for the Santa Fe Railroad. While he enjoyed that experience, he craved the academic world and enrolled at St. Michael’s College where he completed a BA degree in elementary education/Spanish. Gilbert knew that America was a credentialed society and went on to pursue master’s degrees in English and Educational Leadership & Administration.
He ensured that his brothers and children embarked on a similar post-secondary educational path. He enjoyed sharing his love of learning with others and was a mentor to many. His influence on others is evident today in the stories that people share of Gilbert and the positive impact he had on their lives. His nieces and nephews have endless and fond memories of “Uncle Gilbert” and the stories and experiences he shared that ranged from the sharing of New Mexico folklore, Greek Mythology, to teaching them how to fish, chop wood, tie a knot, or how to boil oysters in milk with butter.
His influence was widespread. Many who knew Gilbert shared that it was because of Gilbert’s encouragement that they pursued and obtained a degree in higher education. Gilbert’s employment career encompassed experiences which included teaching in Tres Piedras, Santo Domingo Reservation, Cerro, and Questa Elementary. Later his career included the Principalship at Questa Elementary, HS English teacher, and Director of Instruction.
He had the pleasure of working for the Taos Public School district in state and federal programs and later served as Superintendent for the Questa School District from 1977 through 1985. In 1987 he retired as Superintendent from the Jemez Mountain School District. Gilbert holds the record for serving as Questa’s Superintendent for eight consecutive years and was the first local superintendent to serve in his community.
He thoroughly enjoyed his educational experiences in New Mexico, but after Gilbert’s 25-year career in New Mexico, he moved to California with his beloved wife by his side to begin a new adventure. He embarked on a second career in California as a public school administrator, which included site administration, district level administration, and state & federal program administration. He was again well liked and respected in his new community.
Gilbert will be missed dearly by all who knew and loved him, but will be remembered as a loving husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, colleague, and friend. He was the family’s lifeline, mentor, and hero and will live on in their hearts forever.