On Wednesday (October 10), Francis Córdova was named the 2018 Citizen of the Year by The Taos News. Three hundred guests attended the 18th annual Tradiciones event, held in the main ballroom of El Monte Sagrado Living Resort and Spa.
In addition to Córdova’s award, nine “Unsung Heroes” in the community were also honored: Jill Cline, Francisco “Cisco” Guevara, Lucille Gallegos-Jaramillo and George Jaramillo, Deacon Donald Martinez, Jesse Martinez, Andrew Montoya, Polly Raye, Angel Reyes, and Janet Webb.
Taos News editor Staci Matlock introduced each recipient with a biography of their accomplishments and then each honoree took to the stage – some with prepared remarks and others just speaking from the heart. Taos News publisher Chris Baker presented each honoree with a glass fetish bear by artist Tony Jojola.
Janet Webb was honored for her extensive work with arts organizations, such as the Harwood Museum of Art, SOMOS, The PASEO Project, and the Taos Center for the Arts. Explaining that she is typically shy of microphones, she promised to keep her remarks brief. But Webb drew a big laugh from the audience when she recounted what her partner (artist Larry Bell) had suggested. “Larry told me I should sing a song for you so I wouldn’t be ‘unsung.’ I’m honored to be among this company and I thank you all.”
As each honoree spoke, they ticked off the long lists of nonprofit organizations they have worked with and in some cases, founded.
Jesse Martinez opened his remarks with “Gracias a Dios” (thanks to God). Referring to his service at the St. James Episcopal Food Pantry, he said, “Whatever I do, I don’t do it for me. I do it for His glory.”
Cisco Guevara was honored last among the nine heroes. A well-known storyteller in Taos, the rugged river runner acknowledged the talk of prayer, God and religion throughout the night’s ceremony. But for himself, he spoke of a different higher power. “My church is the canyon that I raft through. I’m so honored I’ve been able to make my living riding on the sacred waters of this community. Agua es vida – there is no truer saying. Always remember the water, which is why I fight to keep it clean.”
Afterwards, sisters Kathleen and Patricia Michaels of Taos Pueblo talked with Guevara and thanked him for his work in protecting the waters of Taos. “We’re from the Water Clan,” Kathleen explained.
When Francis Córdova was announced as the 2018 Citizen of the Year, guitarists Fernando Romero, Nick Branchal and Martín Martínez serenaded Córdova with a traditional Spanish song.
Córdova is the driving force behind Taos Feeds Taos and is also working to realize the dream of a veterans’ cemetery in the Taos valley. He said, “The road of life has no limits. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. I would like to thank the community for helping with Taos Feeds Taos and all the veterans for their service. God bless all of you and God bless America.”
After the ceremony, first-time attendees spoke of being “blown away” by an evening dedicated to community spirit and community participation. Town of Taos Mayor Dan Barrone, who has attended several Tradiciones events over the years, said, “Taos really is a giving community and each honoree has an individual story about what they contribute and the family traditions they share in. That’s what Taos is about.”
As guests filtered out of the ballroom – some heading home, others to the hotel’s Anaconda Bar – Taos News owner Robin Martin took stock of yet another successful Tradiciones event. In the paper’s eighteen years of honoring community members, she said, “It’s gratifying that every year, there’s a really exciting group of honorees.”
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