On Resurrection Sunday, April 21, 2019, Abe Chavez, age 84, was welcomed into the arms of his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Abe was born in Belen, New Mexico, to Abrán and Rose (Ulibarrí) Chavez. He was the first of five children in the family. At age 19, he married his 16 year old soulmate for life, Patsy Atencio. They were married for 65 years. Together they worked tirelessly to build a very successful business and raise a family in Navajo Dam, New Mexico, on the famous San Juan River. He was a true visionary and was affectionately known as the “Dean of the San Juan.”
In his early years, he and his father worked as plasterers in Belen until they moved to the Farmington area in the early fifties. Abe’s father was a successful bantamweight boxer known as the “Farmington Flash.” Abie Gene, as he was known to his family and close friends, followed in his father’s footsteps and became a golden gloves boxing champion. Being a creative entrepreneur, Abe built his first duplex in Farmington at the age of 16. Later on, he and Patsy then parlayed his real estate and construction expertise to establish Abe’s Motel and Fly Shop in Navajo Dam in 1958, four years before the actual Navajo Dam was completed. As the dam was being built, Patsy became the youngest postmaster in the state of New Mexico. Abe and Patsy worked many long hours side by side to cater to the construction workers. As the San Juan River gained a statewide, national, and international reputation as a great trout fishery, Abe and his family grew the business to include the post office, gas station, convenience store, restaurant, motel, and boat storage. Abe used to say that “The world walks through my doors!” Many sportsmen and women would include a stop at Abe’s to get the latest fishing report, visit with Abe, listen to his many fascinating and humorous stories, and buy some much-needed fishing supplies and advice on how to land that lunker on the San Juan River or Navajo Lake. A trip to the San Juan River or Navajo Lake wasn’t complete without a stop at Abe’s for Patsy’s famous enchiladas!
Abe is survived by Patsy, his three children, Randy Chavez, Nadine (James) Maes, and Timothy (Andrea) Chavez. He had seven grandchildren, Carlos and Sarah Chavez, Garrett Chavez, Tyler (Lucy) Cobb, Abbie (Alejandro) Fajardo, Timothy and Benjamin Maes; and four great-grandchildren, Gabriel, Michael, and Tylia Cobb, and Grace Chavez. He is also survived by his siblings, Caroline Goodwin, Diana (Tony) Pacheco, and Kenneth (Cathi) Chavez. Abe was preceded in death by his parents, and sister, Marilyn Haynes.
A celebration of life service will be held Saturday, May 4, at 2:00 p.m. at First Baptist Church, 200 W. Sycamore Ave. Bloomfield, NM. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to First Baptist Church Community Garden in Abe's honor.