Paul Joseph Sanchez
Wed, 03/26/2014 - 9:26pm News Staff
The eighth and final child of Jose Loreto Sanchez and Marta Duran Sanchez, Paul Joseph Sanchez was born on New Year’s Day, 1940 in Pitkin the day after his father was buried. Fatherless, impoverished and taught by his mother to spe ak a northern New Mexican dialect that was not understood outside his home, Paul entered the Gunnison school system at a severe disadvantage. Even so he managed to graduate from Gunnison High School in 1959 having held positions in student government and with letters in football, basketball, and track. Small in stature but swift of foot and never to be intimidated, he played halfback for the 1956 Cowboys state championship team and took fifth in the mile at the state finals track meet in 1957. After graduation, he joined the Marines and had the fortune to serve four years in the Pacific between the Korean and Vietnam wars, earning the sobriquet “Gomer” from his brothers who served in the Army. Returning to Gunnison after his tour of duty, he met Dorothy Mae Hutchins, a Western State English major from Las Animas, and they were married in August of 1964. With daughters Susan and Diana born in 1965 and 1969, Paul’s early years of marriage were a challenge of working multiple West Slope jobs while moving back and forth between Gunnison and Las Animas, where Dorothy gained initial employment teaching school. Finally settling in Salida in 1969, he continued to mine coal outside of Gunnison, pulled a three-year stint at Climax, and worked in the construction trades in Salida. It was during this time that he, a long with school teachers Greg Phillips and Steven Kane, was commended for his bravery in extinguishing a fire at the petroleum storage facility west of Longfellow School. In 1978 he was hired onto the maintenance staff of that school and, while Dorothy taught high school English across town, worked there until his retirement in 1998. Paul was a true Colorado native and the product of a bygone era. Putting family above all else, he spent his free time in the hills, imparting life lessons to his daughters and the Buena Vista nephews and nieces whom he swept along with him (Bobby Sanchez, Steve Sanchez, Keryl Burns and Terri Monahan). Whether hunting elk, brown trout or ar rowheads, Paul made the outdoors both entertaining and instructive for all of the kids, instilling a resourcefulness, personal drive and love of the mountains that has been passed on to the generations that have followed. Paul is survived by Dorothy, his wife of 49 years, and daughters Susan (Greg) Felt and Diana (Steve) Tucker. His grandchildren are Kestrel and Rowen Felt, and Amelya Rae Tucker, and he has a surviving brother, Manuel (Barbara) Sanchez, of Collbran, Colo., as well as numerous nieces and nephews. A Mass of the Catholic Burial was held for Paul at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Salida on March 25 with arrangements made by Lewis & Glenn Funeral Home. The family has requested that well-wishers forego flowers and instead direct donations in Paul’s memory to the charitable organization of their choice.