Age 88, passed away peacefully on April 26, 2023 in Taos, New Mexico. Wesley was born on November 27, 1934 in Cleveland, Ohio to Wesley and Mary Rusnell. He spent his early childhood in Cleveland, and later in San Diego, California, where the family greatly enjoyed the sun and sea. Wesley attended San Diego Junior College, then graduated from San Francisco State College in 1961 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. He played basketball in college and began a lifelong career as an artist while living in San Francisco. Wesley was married to Marilyn Day from 1958 until 1964. They had one daughter, Nila. Wesley moved to Taos, New Mexico in 1963 where he met and fell in love with Elizabeth Willard. They were married on March 10, 1967. Wesley and Elizabeth raised two children; Noel and Ava. In 1973, the family moved to Roswell, New Mexico, as Wesley was accepted into the Artist in Residence program through the Roswell Museum and Art Center. He worked as Registrar, then Curator of Collections for the Roswell Museum and Art Center from 1976 until his retirement in 2006. Wesley and Elizabeth moved back to Taos in 2008 and enjoyed 14 years together with new and old friends. Wesley was an artist throughout his life and regarded as one of the Taos Moderns. His preferred media was oil paint and watercolors that included figures, landscapes, and abstract work. Wesley had shows and works in numerous galleries and was widely recognized in the New Mexico art scene. Wesley enjoyed biking, swimming, going for walks, being outdoors, and wood carving. His musical interests included jazz and classical, with a touch of Willy Nelson. Elizabeth’s piano playing often moved him to tears. He enjoyed a variety of food, including New Mexican cuisine, and he appreciated Elizabeth’s cooking. Wesley was an avid reader and intellectual who loved to tell stories and hear the stories of others. He loved history, poetry, philosophy, the cosmos, and most of all, Elizabeth. Wesley is preceded in death by his wife Elizabeth of 55 years, just five months prior, parents Wesley and Mary, and daughter Nila. He is survived by son Noel (Sonja), daughter Ava (Dan), and four grandchildren; Hunter, Gavin, Jenna, and Megan, as well as his brother Ken. Our deepest gratitude goes out to the many friends and community members who provided invaluable support to Wesley before and after Elizabeth’s passing. A celebration of life will be held for both Wesley and Elizabeth on Sunday, June, 18, 2023, Father’s Day, at Sagebrush Inn in Taos, NM, 2-5 pm. All are welcome. Memorial donations can be made to TENT (Taos Elders & Neighbors Together) at Taoselders.org. Arrangements by Rivera Family Funeral Home, Taos. To share a memory, please visit our website at www.riverafuneralhome.com
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In addition to his work at the Roswell Museum and Art Center, Wesley was a real friend to the Carlsbad Museum and Art Center, where I worked. I looked up to him as a friend and colleague, and admired him as an artist. My sincere condolences to his family. — Virginia Dodier, Taos
In addition to his work at the Roswell Museum and Art Center, Wesley was a real friend to the Carlsbad Museum and Art Center, where I worked. I looked up to him as a friend and colleague, and admired him as an artist. My sincere condolences to his family.
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