Unsung Heroes 2019

Unsung Hero: Dave Cordova

A lasting love of local history, ceremony and giving back

By Jesse Moya
Posted 10/10/19

The Bent Lodge was empty and quiet as Dave Cordova was going down the halls replacing the electrical sockets. He began to reminisce about the lodge and its history, and with it the history of …

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Unsung Heroes 2019

Unsung Hero: Dave Cordova

A lasting love of local history, ceremony and giving back

Posted

The Bent Lodge was empty and quiet as Dave Cordova was going down the halls replacing the electrical sockets. He began to reminisce about the lodge and its history, and with it the history of Taos.

When he was young, Cordova hit the books, learning about history and culture in school. But he wasn’t passionate about the subjects. It wasn’t until later in life, when he moved away, that he learned to appreciate the history and used it to give back to his community in various ways.

“I kept on running into people who knew a hell of a lot more about Taos than I did,” Cordova said. “They wanted to know about all these different things that I could not say anything about.”

Cordova grew up in Las Cordovas, New Mexico, and then moved to Arizona after school to see a bit more of the world and get out of Dodge for awhile. Working in Phoenix ignited his passion to come back home and he started gathering information about his hometown.

Cordova graduated from Taos High School as a proud Tiger and is a lifelong member of the Los Cordovas neighborhood. After he returned from Arizona, he began working at KKIT radio where he developed a love and passion for music and the airwaves. He was often called upon to emcee various local shows and helped the Taos la Fiestas Reina Pageant with its productions. He spent hours with the candidates to perfect their talents, speeches and overall presentations.

After 20 years, when the station shut down, Cordova continued his love for the graphic arts and picked up a camera to launch another career.

Many in Taos might remember Cordova as their wedding photographer because, chances are, he photographed yours. Behind the lens, Cordova said he was happy to share a couple’s big day through images.

“He’s done a lot,” said Taos Historical Society president Ernestina Cordova. “He does so much for the community and I don't think he’s ever been recognized.”

Ernestina and Dave are not related, but grew up in the same neighborhood and even rode the same school bus in elementary school. She said he has always been a kind individual who would give the shirt off his back to help someone.

For over five years, Dave Cordova has been on the board for the Taos Historical Society, but for longer than that, Ernestina said his contributions have been incredibly important.

Cordova runs the group’s website but also maintains the Ayer y Hoy newsletter where his historical knowledge is utilized to educate the community. For several years, Cordova has been collecting stories and photographs from community members, and writing some himself, to keep the history of Taos alive as well.

Some of the stories have focus on past events, while some are recollections of local businesses and undeveloped landscapes that are gone now.

His association with advertisers throughout his years in radio also ignited a passion for helping local businesses in their “Shop Taos First” marketing. In the past, he volunteered at the Taos County Chamber of Commerce where he organized and produced a plethora of local events, including networking breakfasts.

Recently in his life, Cordova decided to take a leap and pursue free masonry. He learned of the Masons over the years and finally met a few members in Taos. Cordova has been in the order since 2008 and became the Master Mason of the Bent Lodge in Taos.

Through his work with the Masons, Cordova has been able to contribute to various charitable organizations in Taos. He has also been able to support the fraternity by holding events and raise funds for those who need it.

Cordova’s work spans so many different fields and disciplines that many people in Taos might know him or his work without even realizing it.

“He’s also a darn good dancer, so a lot of people know him for that, too,” Ernestina said laughing.

Cordova’s parents were nationally renowned folk dancers in Taos and even represented the community in Washington, D.C. He also took up the art but is relatively quiet about his talent.

Taos County can also thank Cordova for getting the Crime Stoppers network started here in the early 2000s after he attended various conferences and brought the tools needed to catch criminals in the area. Until 2012, he ran the website and contributed to the Taos County Crime Stoppers branch.

Cordova said Taos and the surrounding communities are his home, and that even when his younger years told him to leave, he had the drive to come back.

“There are places where you go to where you feel comfortable, you feel connected, you feel grounded and you feel like you belong,” he said. “Taos, to me, is just that.”

Cordova has plans in the future to sit down with community members to gather more stories and history about Taos and hopes to share some of those stories with the younger generations. He has plenty of experience with sound from his days of working in radio, and said once he has time the idea may become a reality.

Of course, no man’s story is complete without the help of their partner, and Cordova said the saying is true of his wife, Lisa. It has been with her help that he has been able to accomplish much of his feats and gives much credit to her time, dedication and patience.

As he sat in the billiards room of the Bent Lodge, Cordova told stories of his travels and his experiences over the years. His decades of interest in various fields have led him to many places and given way to hundreds of experiences he has shared with his community. His accomplishments are often shared with his family and friends. Those around him say he rarely takes credit for the hard work he puts in.

“I’ve had a great life,” he said, smiling. “I’ve had a lot of fun.”

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