Our beloved Ted, 77, passed away peacefully in his home in Chimayó on October 25, 2022. After suffering through a long, difficult fight with dementia, in the end Ted achieved una muerte dichosa, which he prayed for as a penitente for almost 50 years.
Ted was born on Christmas Eve, 1944 in Los Angeles to Cipriano DeAguero Trujillo of Chimayó and Nellie Miranda of Lincoln. He was an idealist, unafraid to fight for what he believed in, no matter the personal consequences to him. He joined the Peace Corps in 1966, was assigned to Colombia and was immediately disillusioned with its lack of regard for the working people of Colombia. He fought to change the program from within and failed, leaving the program early to return to New Mexico where he got a teaching job in Truchas and found his calling. Thus began a professional career marked by resiliency to obstacles and rooted in his love for the people of northern New Mexico.
Ted met his future wife, Marisela, in the Teacher Corps Program at NMSU. They both strived to use innovative teaching methods to make learning fun for their students and they recruited likeminded friends to join them teaching at Coyote Elementary. Despite their success, after a few years they butted heads with the conventional leadership and were forced out after a showdown between the superintendent and the school board. They moved to Chimayó to restore the adobe house that Cipriano had built in the 1930’s, and Ted was Principal and teacher at Mountain View Elementary and then later taught at Chimayó Elementary. He called these years his finest moments of teaching.
Ted became an administrative aide at Northern New Mexico Community College and quickly worked his way up to Vice-President, playing a critical role in it becoming accredited. After he was pressured to use his authority to hire someone at Northern and was threatened that Marisela would be fired from her position with the public schools if he didn’t play ball, Ted of course refused, and Marisela was fired. Ted and his colleagues then fought and lost a political coup for control of Northern and were forced out, and Ted reinvented himself by going to law school at UNM in his early 40’s. He graduated from law school at the age of 43 and began to practice law out of an upstairs apartment behind his house. He returned to teaching Spanish at Pojoaque High School while also practicing law until he retired from teaching in 1999. Ted had an exceptional gift for connecting with his students and making education fun, and he is fondly remembered by his former students and teacher colleagues alike, who lit up when they saw him.
Ted began representing Rio Arriba County at the invitation of his mentor, Dennis Luchetti. Ted earned the trust of the County leadership and after Dennis passed away, Ted represented Rio Arriba County until 2015, during which time he won a case before the New Mexico Supreme Court. Ted also loved advocating for land and water issues on behalf of his people. He represented almost 50 mutual domestic water associations throughout northern New Mexico, including one in his beloved Chimayó. He litigated grazing and water rights cases on behalf of the Northern New Mexico Stockman’s Association and was a staunch advocate for land grants and acequias.
Ted was a deeply spiritual man, a proud member of La Hermandad and was happy to see his morada’s membership grow in his final years. He prayed every day, during which he said he empathized with the hardship and suffering he saw around him, human and animal alike, and would think in one form or another, “There, but for the Grace of God, go I.”
Ted endeared himself easily to people and was effortlessly funny, charming and approachable. He was enthusiastic about everything, brimming with hopeful energy. He was both a cautionary tale and an inspiration. He was an intellectual and a ladies’ man, private about his personal life to the point that it contributed to his undoing. He was generous with his time, fifteen minutes early to everything, and always willing to attend an evening meeting and stay until there were no more questions or discussion to be had. His parents didn’t teach him Spanish, but he worked hard to learn it as an adult and helped teach his children and students to continue the tradition. He was a vault of historical information and a storyteller of the olden days of New Mexico. He was a poet, a philosopher, a beautiful writer, a good chess player and an average fisherman. He was a dreamer who spent decades acquiring ancestral farmland in El Rincón de los Trujillo, remodeling adobe house after adobe house, which he delighted to see his children and grandchildren live in. He got up before the crack of dawn every day because “a beautiful new day is awaiting you.” He was enamored with all his grandchildren and lit up whenever he saw them. Whatever flaws he had were forgiven, and the things he failed to provide were nothing compared to the raw materials of the legacy that he leaves: of being rooted in place and tradition; of showing up for your people; of being a lifelong learner; of being idealistic and believing in the greater good and fighting for what you believe in; of having true compassion for the less fortunate. He will be sorely missed by all those whose lives he had an impact on.
Ted is survived by his sister, Marcia Medina; his children and grandchildren, son Adán (wife Ashley, grandsons Felix and Alonso), son Omar (wife Masha, grandchildren Verona, and Teo), daughter Pilar (granddaughter Sabina), and son Elias; and many family members who loved him and who he loved. Pallbearers are: sons Adán, Omar and Elias Trujillo; grandsons Felix and Alonso Trujillo; nephews Pablo and Gene Medina; cousin Rodney Bustos. Honorary pallbearers are: grandson Teo Trujillo Dogadaev; nephew Steven Medina; special cousins Eli and Danny Jaramillo, Michael Melendrez and Carlos, Claudio and Gerald Chacon; lifelong friends Jose Lucero and Joe Ciddio; longtime friends Adrian Ortiz and Juan Garcia.
Ted’s family sincerely thanks all who visited Ted before his passing, all who reached out afterwards, and special thanks to Los Hermanos de la Morada de Nuestro Señor de Esquipula and Luis Peña for prayers; The Legacy at Santa Fe for lovingly caring for Ted in his difficult final months, especially Janet Garcia, Yessenia Acosta and Iris Lemus; and Ambercare and Hospice Nurse Eloida Martinez for the expert care and support.
Rosary will be held on Thursday November 10, 2022, at 6:00 PM at the Sangre De Cristo Chapel at DeVargas Funeral Home in Espanola, NM. Mass will be on Friday, November 11, 2022, at 11:00 AM at the Holy Family Church in Chimayo, NM. Burial will follow at El Potrero Cemetery in Chimayo, NM.
The Family of Theodore "Ted" Trujillo has entrusted the gentle care of their loved one to DeVargas Funeral Home & Crematory of the beautiful Espanola Valley. (505)747-7477 www.devargasfuneral.com