Longtime Las Vegas, N.M. political leader killed

 

SANTA FE, OCT. 14, 1996 — A Las Vegas, N.M., political leader, Bataan prison camp survivor and former police chief died Saturday evening after he was hit by a car on Interstate 25 south of Las Vegas.

Adolfo Garduno, 75, former chairman of the San Miguel County Republican Party and a retired state Tax and Revenue Department employee, was also well-known for the quarter horses he raced at The Downs of Santa Fe.

“He was a true gentleman, a man with high conviction,” former state legislator and former Las Vegas Mayor Alfred Nelson said, recalling the times Garduno called him on election night. “He would always be there for you. He would be the man you would want at your side always.”

Garduno and his wife Rosine were out for their usual weekend afternoon drive when Garduno apparently spotted something and stopped their truck on Interstate 25, one of his sons said Sunday.

Garduno stepped out of his truck and was hit by a passing car, his son Wilfred Garduno said, adding that his mother has been too upset to talk about why they stopped on the interstate.

State police had only partial information available on the crash Sunday.

Garduno was wearing dark clothing and crossing the southbound lanes at 7:04 p.m. when a 1991 Chevrolet Celebrity came around the curve and hit him, sending him over the car and onto the embankment, state police Sgt. Dennis Brown said. Garduno was killed instantly, Brown said.

The driver was unable to see Garduno, Brown said. He had no information on whether the driver was cited in the crash. State police do not believe alcohol was involved.

Garduno is survived by his wife Rosine, three sons, Wilfred, Gerald and Lawrence; two daughters, Louella Rodriguez and Kathy Garduno; two adopted sons, Lupe Garduno and Teno Ortiz; and 11 grandchildren.

He was born in the small town of Chaperito near Las Vegas. At age 20, he was sent to the Philippines in World War II as a member of the U.S. Army Coast Artillery, his son said.

He was taken prisoner by the Japanese in 1942 and left for dead in the “morgue” room of a prison camp hospital, his son Wilfred Garduno said.

Adolfo Garduno survived, was rescued after 3 years in the camp and returned to Las Vegas, N.M., to be reunited with his wife and the first of his children.

Garduno went on to become Las Vegas town clerk and police chief.

He has stayed in Las Vegas since he retired from state government in the 1970s, his son Wilfred Garduno said. “He always said, ‘Why go anywhere when you have it all here.’”

A Rosary will be recited at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church in Las Vegas. A Mass will be held Thursday at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church. The Mass time is still pending. Adolfo Garduno will be buried at the National Cemetery in Santa Fe. Arrangements are under the direction of the Nelson Funeral Home, 425-6551.

 

Sharyn Obsatz for the New Mexican