Rememberance

Taos waves its hat to cowboy Chet Mitchell

By Jesse Moya
jmoya@taosnews.com
Posted 11/7/18

On a cold Taos Sunday while wind blew the newly fallen leaves, friends and family of Chet Mitchell gathered together to bid him one final farewell.

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Rememberance

Taos waves its hat to cowboy Chet Mitchell

Posted

On a cold Taos Sunday while wind blew the newly fallen leaves, friends and family of Chet Mitchell gathered together to bid him one final farewell.

What were the words to describe him? Witty, ornery, kind, lady's man, gentleman, handsome devil, all around rascal, said minister Ted Wiard, who led the memorial for his friend.

Mitchell, the former owner of the famed Corral No. 5 at the corner of Paseo del Pueblo Sur and Camino de la Placita, was a Taos icon in his own way.

He was described as a "real cowboy" by some of his friends; he lived the ranch life, spending years on the range in Roy, New Mexico. He brought his talents to Taos and eventually settled in the community and made his name at the Taos Inn, fiestas and other popular spots across town.

"I wasn't sure if he was a legend from the old days or a contemporary fellow," said Richard Archuleta, Taos Pueblo Senior Citizen Program Manager, who was among those gathered at Corral No. 5 to honor Mitchell.

"His big smile with eyes filled with love were all I needed to see to know how deep his heart was for all the people he cared for in this world," Wiard said of Mitchell.

Mitchell was a veteran of the U.S. Navy during World War II and was stationed on a destroyer ship that was attacked three separate times. According to his family, during all his years in the Navy, Mitchell never once learned how to swim and never did.

Through tears and laughter, friends and family shared their thoughts and feelings about the man who played as hard as he worked throughout his life.

"Two days before he passed, he really wanted a rum and coke," said Mitchell's granddaughter Marion Summers with a smile. "A friend snuck one into his room, in a real glass with real ice cubes. Oh, how his eyes lit up!"

Summers shared stories of Mitchell's humor and even a story about how he would give her money for a balloon, only to pop the balloon and hand her another nickel to buy another.

Mitchell's favorite Sunday pastime was to make his way to the Taos Inn where he would have brunch and even pass a meal to a stranger or good friend in the process. To honor that tradition, guests made their way over to the inn where they could have one last meal to remember Mitchell by.

Mitchell's legacy will live on in Taos through several avenues. One is his fellow veterans in the form of Not Forgotten Outreach, a veterans assistance group build to help vets in any way.

Not Forgotten Outreach purchased Corral No. 5 from Mitchell to begin building onto their veteran services and plans to use the farmland to its potential in the future. In addition, the group is working on a veterans memorial and walkway trail to commemorate all Taos county veterans past and present.

The deal between Mitchell and Not Forgotten Outreach was a smooth one once Mitchell was made aware of the group's plans and their commitment to preserving the property and not building too much or subdividing it.

"I feel very blessed that he kind of adopted us as family, and he really made it possible for NFO to grow," said Don Peters, NFO executive director. "He really approved of NFO's thoughts for how the property is going to be."

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