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When she died in 2012, the Taos community celebrated the life of the irascible Butchie Denver, artist and activist in Democratic politics, government accountability, and water and acequia issues. Then in 2016, we honored Ron Gardiner, another artist, and activist, an expert on watershed management and wildfire prevention. Now, in 2021, we’ve lost Bill Whaley, the notorious Taos gringo: ski bum, cultural entrepreneur, Horse Fly (aka the Pesky Insect) publisher, and academic. As the editor of La Jicarita, a journal of environmental politics, and community activist who worked closely with all of them, I’m hard-pressed as to how to proceed.
Bill Whaley, beloved by his family, champion of the underdog, truth teller and armchair philosopher – the HorseFly who made a sport of chewing out those in power – passed away Monday (Feb. 8) on the slopes of the mountain that called him home. Tempo editor Lynne Robinson, one of his many friends, wrote this remembrance.
Oh, dear Bill you have left us. You were such a part of the early days, the days when Taos won our hearts. Our first interaction with you was as patrons of your Plaza Movie Theater. Soon after we moved here, Michael and I bid on a raffle ticket for a year of free movie-going … we had the highest bid. We lived a few blocks from your movie theater and our television had broken. We took brazen advantage of our prize. You had an intricate schedule of movies ranging from soft porn to classic Bergman. I think you were in love with Julie Christie. We went to movies at your place at least twice a week. Soon our children caught on, and they would even bring "cousins" to watch cartoons. You just smiled and welcomed us all. Thank you.
Bill Whaley, beloved by his family, champion of the underdog, truth teller and armchair philosopher – the HorseFly who made a sport of chewing…
For our fifth installment, Tempo talks with Bill Whaley, Horse Fly founder and editor.
Whaley, back in 1966, moved to Taos so he could ski. Enlisting with the New Mexico National Guard kept him in Taos, and what a life it's been for the valle's most notorious gringo.