Arthur “Art” Blea, 73, adoring husband, loving father, grandfather, brother, uncle, dedicated educator and avid golfer, passed away suddenly after a brief battle with cancer on April 22, 2021.
Arthur was born on May 26,1947 in La Junta, Colorado. When he was a young boy, his family relocated to the small rural village of Rainesville, New Mexico where he was raised with his five brothers. He attended St. Gertrude High School in Mora, New Mexico and was a member of the last graduating class from that institution in 1964. Thanks to the support and encouragement from his mother and eldest brother Larry, Arthur went on to attend New Mexico Highlands University where he earned his Bachelor’s and later multiple Master’s Degrees in Special Education and Education Administration. Highlands was not only where he met the love of his life, Mary Lou, but where he also displayed his natural talent, aptitude and love for the game of golf. A consistently strong player, he earned many titles and accolades with hopes to play professionally after college. His professional golf aspirations and seemingly unstoppable trajectory unfortunately came to a halt when he was drafted into the U.S. Army in June of 1968. Earning the rank of Sergeant, Arthur was deployed to Vietnam and served this nation until his return in 1970. While the war may have changed his path, Arthur’s love for the sport never ended as he continued to play until the summer before his death. He found much joy watching what would turn out to be his last Master’s Tournament just before his final days.
Arthur is best known for his extensive career and service to the schools of Northern New Mexico over the past 50 years. After returning from serving his country in Vietnam, he began teaching at the West Las Vegas School District in 1970. He worked as a teacher and counselor in Las Vegas until he, Mary Lou and Robbie relocated to Mary Lou’s hometown in the Espanola Valley.It was there that his career spanned for decades, serving the schools in virtually every capacity ranging from director of Special Education, traveling statewide working as an educational diagnostician, and ultimately taking on the challenges of serving as the school Superintendent for the Pojoaque Valley Schools and later for the Espanola Valley School District. Even up until this past year, Arthur continued to work as an elementary school counselor at the Ohkay Owingeh Community School. Those who worked with him, would most certainly recall his breadth of knowledge, unending dedication and his remarkably calm and kind demeanor. Regardless of whichever capacity he was serving in any school district, his monumental contributions and his enduring display of genuine care and respect for the students, staff and community at large will never be forgotten.
The only other thing which was more important to Arthur than his dedication to the education of New Mexico children, was the pure love which he held for his family. Not only was he an amazing father and role model, but Arthur was a dedicated and loving husband. During her long fought and difficult battle with cancer, Arthur selflessly nurtured and cared for Mary Lou each and every day until her passing. The bedrock of his family, Arthur took great pride in his grandchildren whom he made many amazing memories with: teaching them to play golf, spending afternoons fishing, at the movies and indulging them with regular trips for ice cream. He most recently was focused on his significant role in helping to educate and raise his two youngest grandchildren - something that brought him deep fulfillment and genuine happiness throughout his final decade of life.
Arthur is preceded in death by his late wife, Mary Lou Blea, his parents, Sam Blea and Avelina Rivera, his brother Larry Cordova and most recently, his niece, Shannon Blea.
Arthur is survived by his son, Robert “Robbie” Blea of La Mesilla, his daughter, Felicia Blea of Albuquerque, as well as his five beloved grandchildren: Maria Blea, Arturo Blea, III of La Mesilla, as well as Jon, Julia and Justin Rivera, all of Albuquerque. He is also survived by his four brothers, Sammy Blea of Santa Fe, Deacon Eddie Blea and wife Anna of Albuquerque, LeRoy Blea and wife Bella of Mora, and Gabriel Blea and wife Roseline of Las Vegas, New Mexico. Arthur also leaves behind many cousins, nephews, nieces, great nephews and nieces as well as many colleagues, close friends and neighbors.
A rosary will take place on Thursday, April 29, 2021 at 10:30 A.M at the San Juan Bautista Catholic Church in Ohkay Owingeh, New Mexico. The funeral mass will immediately follow at the church at 11:00 A.M. Due to COVID-19 capacity restrictions, services will also be live-streamed on San Juan Bautista’s YouTube channel. For live streaming access to the services, please visit: https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCjOtmc6gYH3zG4y8pvuuG-Q
A private interment ceremony will be held on a later date.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the American Cancer Society.
The family of Arthur Blea has entrusted their loved one to DeVargas Funeral Home & Crematory of the Espanola Valley.
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