American Veteran 02

Joseph "Joe" C. Vigil

November 6, 2020


Joseph “Joe” C.  Vigil Sr., 88, a resident of Chama, New Mexico, passed away on Friday, November 6, 2020, born January 20, 1932 was preceded in death by his beloved wife Loyola G. Vigil and his parents Eduardo and Ignacita Vigil; decedents of immigrants who came to this “pais” in the mid-1600s.  He is also preceded in death by his sisters Lillian Gallegos, Susan Trujillo, Dorah Bailey, Marge Biggin, Emma Williams and P. Elizabeth Vigil.  He is survived by his brother Eddie Vigil, Jr. and his wife Luz as well as his sister Roseanne Radanovich, his three children, Joseph C. Vigil, Jr. his wife Pamela, daughter Nickie Vigil, son Ramon I. Vigil and his wife Angela.  His grandchildren, Michelle Vigil, Christina Lauritzen, her husband Paul, Dennis J. Garcia, Anna A. Garcia, Carlos L. Garcia, David Emery, Justin Emery and his wife Amanda.  Great grand children Anthony and Miguel Ulibarri, Xavier and Zoey Lauritzen, Damon, Braylon, Juliana, Addlyn Redwine Emery and Mila Garcia.  His brothers-in-law Felix Gallegos and his wife Tina, Martin Gallegos and his wife Cris, sister-in-law Mary Gallegos as well as many nieces and nephews.  He is also survived by his exceptional and tireless caregivers for the last three years Izcoatl and Cynthia Rascon of Santa Fe.

Joe was born in Ensenada, New Mexico and his family later moved to Chama during his youth.  He graduated from Chama High School in 1949 and attended Adams State College in Alamosa, CO.  Joe continued serving his family ranching interests in and around the valley.  He later married his high-school sweetheart and love of his life Loyola Gallegos in 1952 and was drafted to serve in the US Army during the Korean War soon thereafter.

Upon honorable discharge from the Army he returned home where he and Loyola, started their family and lives together.  They attempted ranching and then a service station business in Chama.  They soon realized that there was need for auto repair as well as an auto parts outlet that would serve the valley and established the Chama Garage on Main Street.   As the business grew it became known as Chama American Auto Parts, Inc. staffed by family members and close associates.  Today the family business is a Napa Auto Parts store managed by son Ramon nearly 60 years later. 

Over the years Joe served his community in many capacities both in the public and private sectors.  Joe would frequently say he could not ever imagine living anywhere other than the Chama Valley because of the beautiful people and environment. He was committed to the community he served and all the while maintaining his own business, took on other positions to include General Manager for two separate operators of the Cumbres Toltec and Scenic Railroad (C&TS).  First for Scenic Railways, Inc. and then Kyle Railways, Inc.  He served organizations such as the Friends of the C&TS and the Rio Grande Railroad Preservation Corp as well.  These operations were the result of work Joe did in the late 60s and early 70s that helped preserve the railroad through the “save the narrow gage” campaign that started the effort to keep the railroad alive as the tourist attraction that it is today.  

In between his two different terms as General Manager of the railroad, in the mid-1980s, Joe also served as board member and Vice President of SunWest Bank in Chama.  He retired from Kyle Railways in the late 1990s.

Along with his professional endeavors, Joe also dedicated himself to community services as a long-time member of various other boards to include the Chama Valley School Board, the Northern Rio Arriba Electric Co-op Board, Plains Electric Generation & Transmission Board, The Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad Commission, Parish Council of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church and Knights of Columbus.  For the Village of Chama he was on the Housing Authority Board, Planning and Zoning Board, Community Ditch Association and Cemetery Board, including the MB Ditch Association Board.  It is evident by all of the assignments he took on, Joe not only worked to set policy, but he worked to implement it.

Joe will be remembered as a humble, quiet, accepting, and approachable gentleman.   Joe and Loyola taught their sons and daughter well.  They gave them the tools to go out to live their dreams.  As parents they provided educations, exemplified strong work ethics, upheld strong spiritual faith and made clear the importance to balance what is most meaningful in life.   Their children would always have a home to return to for any reason or circumstance.  Joe loved the outdoors spending time with his family hunting, fishing, camping, snowmobiling, cooking all the while soaking in Northern New Mexico life with hot chile, cold beer, family, and friends.  He once quibbled with Loyola over dinner as he was indulging in his meal and asked what she had against him?  She responded with amazement at his question.  He said the chili was so hot that he thought she did not want him around anymore.  

He will be missed by all who knew him.  He was there for anyone who needed him.  It was not about how big and grandiose things can be, but what was needed for success, a comfort, and a path with a little help given with dignity and respect for all.  He expected nothing more in return than a handshake.  Today, weeks, months and years to come Joe will be remembered and celebrated for not only for who he was but for the legacy and example he left behind.

Because of the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic and the Governor’s health orders, services have been postponed until a more safe and appropriate time.  In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be directed to the building fund at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Chama. The family of Joseph “Joe” C. Vigil Sr. has entrusted the care of their loved one to the DeVargas Funeral Home & Crematory of the Espanola Valley.

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