LEONARDO "LEO" TAFOYA, age 82, passed away unexpectedly on Saturday evening, October 5, 2019 at the family home in Santa Clara Pueblo.
Leo was born, the sixth of thirteen children, on February 23, 1937, to Alcario and Margaret Tafoya, in Santa Clara Pueblo. He graduated from Espanola High School in 1958. He performed with the "Chief Foggy Bird Family" dance group at Royal Gorge near Cañon City, Colorado in the 1950s and early 1960s.
After, high school, Leo continued to help his parents with the family's farming and livestock and worked small jobs around the pueblo. In the early 1960s, he was one of four journeyman plumbers at Santa Clara Pueblo, tasked with installing the first indoor plumbing systems on the reservation. Leo was also a Wildland Firefighter for the tribe at that time. Flat feet kept him out of the military. Before retirement, he was employed as a Maintenance Technician at the tribal administration offices and was known to be meticulous at cleaning.
Leo was the caretaker of the family home and rarely, if ever, let a weed creep into the yard. He was the family "touchstone" for village news. He participated in activities with the Santa Clara Pueblo Senior Center and enjoyed a last trip to the State Fair in September. He loved and missed fishing in Santa Clara Canyon. Leo thoroughly enjoyed watching local high school baseball and basketball games. At his last birthday celebration, family members joked that he needed a Christmas Eve style bonfire on his birthday cake instead of candles. Leo was never married.
Leo was preceded in death by his parents; his Godfather, Manuel Tafoya; brothers, Lee, Roger, Phillip, and Kenneth Tafoya; and sisters, Virginia Ebelacker, Jennie Trammel, Mela Youngblood, and Shirley Tafoya. He is survived by siblings, Toni (Ted) Roller, LuAnn Tafoya, and Wayne (Diane) Tafoya all of Santa Clara, and Mary Ester Archuleta of Ohkay Owingeh; and many nieces and nephews. A wake service will be held on Wednesday, October 9, 2019 at 7:00 p.m. at the family home in Santa Clara with a rosary to be recited at 7:30 p.m. Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated on Thursday, October 10, 2019 at 9:00 a.m. at the Santa Clara Tewa Mission with Rev. Fr. Nathan Lopez presiding. Burial follow at 10:00 a.m. at the Santa Clara Pueblo Cemetery with his nephews serving as pallbearers, Barry & Bryon Archuleta and A.J. Oyenque all of Ohkay Owingeh, William Tafoya, Joseph Lugo, & James Ebelacker of Santa Clara Pueblo. The family of Leonardo “Leo” Tafoya has entrusted their loved one to DeVargas Funeral Home & Crematory of the Española Valley.