Cover photo for Alfonso Elevto Garcia's Obituary
1933 Alfonso 2023

Alfonso Elevto Garcia

March 16, 1933 — December 19, 2023

Farmington, New Mexico

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Alfonso E. Garcia, Sr, was born on March 16, 1933, in northern Taos to Christobal and Celina Archuleta Garcia.  By the time he was three, he had two younger siblings. His mother was pregnant with their fourth child when she tragically succumbed to pneumonia.  Al and his siblings (Magdalena and Meliton) had extremely close relationships throughout their lives.  They were  raised by their paternal grandparents (Francisco and Jacinta Miera de Garcia) who had 9 children of their own (6 of them still at home).  This is where Al learned to work hard, value family, and where the importance of getting an education was instilled. When his uncles joined the cause of WW2, his grandfather came to rely on young Alfonso to help plow (driving on the farm by the time he was 9!), irrigate the fields, harvest the crops, milk the cows, and tend to the other animals at his grandfather’s side. 

During the summer of 1951, Al met Ida Hernandez.  They were married in 1952, after which nineteen-year-old Alfonso joined his father as a Wear-Ever  traveling salesman selling pots and pans in Phoenix, AZ to support his young family.  Times were tough financially.  In 1953, Al was drafted into the Army due to the Korean conflict. He was enrolled in basic training at Fort Bliss, El Paso, TX, where their first child (Loretta) was born.  Ida and Loretta went to live in Taos with Al’s grandparents while the Army sent Al to New York and then Greenland for duty.  While he was on his way home from Greenland, Ida gave birth to their second child, Alfonso E. Garcia, Jr.  

Alfonso was honorably discharged from the military in 1955 and began his higher education at Highlands University in Las Vegas, NM, while simultaneously working full-time to support his family.  His son, Larry, was born during this time and, Al admitted, it was a struggle for him to fulfill all his commitments.  He wanted to quit school, but Ida encouraged him to continue his education for its long-term benefit, so he kept going.  He was able to secure a better job as an attendant at the New Mexico State hospital. He had a grueling schedule, but Ida and Al worked together to care for their growing family.  Soon, their daughter, Laura Mona, was born.  Al graduated with a BA in business education and social science in June 1958. (He managed to graduate in three years).  He continued to work at the state hospital after graduation, being promoted to administrative assistant to the superintendent, Dr. C. G. Stillinger. 

After graduation, Al attended Army National Guard Officer’s Candidate School for one weekend a month in Santa Fe, NM, and was commissioned a second lieutenant, Artillery, in August 1960.  Al and Ida ventured to open a small café, named “Lakeview Café”, at Storrie Lake in Las Vegas, NM.  It was challenging to make a living, especially as they welcomed their fifth child, Vince, who completed their family.  To make ends meet, Al substitute taught at the high school in Las Vegas for a couple of years.  He then decided to join the US Army full-time and consequently served in various locations around the world including El Paso, TX, a first tour in Vietnam from September 1965 to September 1966 where he received the Army Commendation Medal, then back to El Paso.  He served a second tour in Vietnam from September 1968 to September 1969 where he was awarded the Bronze Star.  From September 1969 to August 1972 he was stationed in Wurzburg, Germany, but this time his family joined him on assignment and they enjoyed the time together. Al was very involved with the children’s activities, ranging from sports to church service.  From August 1972 to October 1975, the family was stationed in Madrid, Spain, which was a great fit for Al since he was fluent in Spanish.  By the time they moved back to Fort Bliss in 1975, the four oldest children had graduated from high school.

The transition back to the USA proved difficult for their marriage and in early 1977, after a period of separation, Al and Ida divorced. He experienced feelings of despair during this time but also witnessed some gratifying events including the success of his children completing their educations and finding wonderful companions, as well as the birth of his first grandchildren (eventually totaling 18).  He loves his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren dearly.

Al continued working on his personal goals during this period, completing the army’s Command and General Staff College course, graduating in May of 1977 and also acquiring a master’s degree in human relations in March 1978.  He was also awarded the Meritorious Service Medal by the Army.  

Another wonderful thing happened for Alfonso when he was re-acquainted with, started dating, and fell in love with Heidi R. Boren (Priess), who was kind, compassionate, and a talented cook.  They married in Taos, NM, in April 1978 supported by Al’s extended, but close-knit, family there.  

From August 1978 to September 1981, he served as the public affairs officer at Fort Clayton in Panama, in the 193rd Brigade.  He was able to take Heidi and her two children (Michele and Nicole Boren) with him to Panama, where they lived on Fort Clayton Army base.  It was during this time that Al’s father came to Panama and inspired Al to return to activity in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Soon, Heidi and her girls were also baptized. Panama was a joyful time where Al thoroughly enjoyed his job, fellowship in church, and the adventures living in Panama brought. One of his most cherished memories in Panama was when his son, Vince, came to stay for a month. Al’s ability to speak Spanish proved to be a huge advantage in Panama, also.  Al had the gift of being able to converse with anyone and had wonderful local experiences because of it.  Heidi and Al bought a little boat, and the family went fishing in the Panama Canal’s Gatun Lake often, catching loads of Peacock Bass then having a fish fry for his office!   Al has always been a gifted woodworker. During the Panama years, He and Heidi frequented the wood shop on base. They made furniture, other useful items, and wooden toys (including rolling alligators and rocking horses) which Al gave to his children and grandchildren.  In Panama, he was awarded the Army Meritorious Service Medal, 1st Oak Leaf Cluster.

Al retired from the United States Army as a Lieutenant Colonel in Lawton, OK, on October 31, 1981, and then he and Heidi settled in Farmington, NM.  At first, they both worked as “movers” for Al’s childhood friend, Harry Chacon (who owned Allied Van Lines), while Al figured out next steps…  In 1982, Al started working at Navajo Community College in Shiprock, NM, as a full-time professor teaching business courses (eventually becoming the dean of the business college and then acting president of NCC for 18 months).  They found a lovely home in Farmington on one acre with 17 fruit trees which Al tended to faithfully over the years.  He constantly worked on their property and grew a large garden, built a chicken coop, and made many other additions which the knowledge attained during his upbringing enabled him to do.  In his garage-turned-woodshop, he spent much of his free time continuing to create items for his children and great-grandchildren. In his profession, he eventually transferred to San Juan Community College in 1990 to continue teaching business classes, and finally retired from teaching in 1999. 

Alfonso and Heidi served in many capacities in their community.  They delivered Meals on Wheels for over 20 years.  They were active in the local retired military officer’s group for decades (Totah chapter), with Al serving in several leadership positions including as president for 2 years. He was on the Farmington mayor’s city board for a time.  He also served in various church callings including ministering to many families over the years.  He and Heidi always looked out for friends and neighbors experiencing hardships, continually checking on them, and providing many meals over the years.  Heidi and Al thoroughly loved their three years of service in the LDS Albuquerque temple, but aging and long-distance travel made it difficult to continue.  Al was an early riser who played racquetball three days a week at 6:00am with his close group of racquetball buddies. He played until he was 87 years old!  On the court, the jokes flew even faster than the racquetballs! One of Al’s funny sayings was, “Don’t go away mad…just go away,” said with the perfect combination of gruffness and humor. 

Over the last couple of years, dementia and Parkinson’s increasingly limited Al’s ability to think clearly and function independently.  He had played racquetball, worked around the home with the upkeep of the property, and served others until he just couldn’t anymore.  His wife, Heidi, faithfully tended to him in their home during his steady decline but over the last couple of years, his dementia grew increasingly severe, and he was no longer safe at home.  We would like to thank all of those who worked caring for Al at the Beehive Memory Care Facility for their wonderful care of him over the last year.  We also offer deep gratitude for all of the friends and family members who came to visit him to brighten his days.  On December 19, 2023, Covid took Al’s life at the age of 90. 

What a joy to know that, through our Savior, Jesus Christ, Al is no longer suffering, is now whole…and will be reunited with cherished loved ones who have already passed including his parents, brother (Mel), and son (Al, Jr).

Preceded in death by:

His son, Alfonso Elevto Garcia, Jr.

Parents:  Celina Archuleta Garcia (mother), Christobal Ruperto Garcia, Sr (father), Amelia Elvira Vigil (Stepmother)

Brother: Meliton Moroni Garcia

Grandparents:

Paternal grandparents:  Juan Francisco Garcia (grandfather) and Maria Jacinta Miera (grandmother)

Maternal grandparents:  Jose Manual Archuleta (grandfather) and Maria Eva Martinez (grandmother).

Survived by:

Wife: Heidi R. Garcia (Priess)

Children:  Daughter Loretta Martinez (Ramon), Daughter-in-law Meno Garcia (married to deceased son, Alfonso, Jr.), son Larry Garcia (Beverly), daughter Laura Mona McDonald (Greg), and son Vince Garcia (Teresa). Stepdaughters Stephanie Michele Preisendorf (Jerry) and Nicole Collins (Bruce).

Siblings: Sister Magdalena Gale (married to Milton, deceased) and Sister-in-law Clara Garcia (married to his brother, Meliton, deceased)

Grandchildren: Marcella Shelby (Jason), Ramon Martinez.  Jeff Garcia, Alfonso E. Garcia, III (Lindsay), Bitty Beus (Brian), Benjamin Garcia (Amy), Reina Garcia. Marla White (Wade), Michael Garcia (Kara), Ryan Garcia (Dorothy), Gillian Moderow (Taylor). Ida Dawn Zeiler (Cleat), Eric McDonald (Darcey), Rachel McDonald, Carlos McDonald (Florence). Christopher Garcia, Amanda Garcia, Brianna Celeste Paiaro (Justin). And numerous great-grandchildren. 

Funeral plans:  Alfonso’s remains will be cremated.  On his next birthday, March 16, 2024, a “Celebration of Life” will be held to honor Al at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  Details will be forthcoming.  He will be interred at the State Veteran’s Cemetery in Angel Fire, NM which specifically honors Vietnam Veterans. He will receive full military honors during the ceremony.  The plans for interment are tentatively planned for June 2024. 

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Alfonso Elevto Garcia, please visit our flower store.

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