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Geraldine Hubbell "Geri" Wacker

She was born into a large, old colonial, pioneer and landed family (the "Hubles" as the locals called them). She grew up in the South Valley "Tobacco Farm" area and near the village of Pajarito. Geri, the only child, was doted upon by her parents, Mabel White Hubbell and Frank A. Hubbell Jr. As a tot she was known to be engaging but also very willful; for tantrums; and throwing food when eating in the dining room. So, she was banished to the kitchen to have her meals and earned the moniker "La Reina" from the besieged help. Privileged and sheltered, she was permitted to play with the local children only on occasion of the yearly Easter egg hunt and other annual festivities the family hosted for their employees and kin. Her mother's attempts to gentrify her were shrugged-off, especially if it meant she was to wear pink! She grew up pretty much a tom-boy, first on the farm and later on the family sheep ranch outside Magdalena. She was an accomplished horse woman who loved animals, especially dogs. During grade school she lived at and attended an Albuquerque girl's Catholic boarding school on weekdays, which socialized her with other children, her parents hoped. She came home to the South Valley on weekends to spend time with the family. Always a good student, she later attended the original Albuquerque High School (Broadway and Central) then went on the UNM. She graduated a year early with a Liberal Arts degree, and a bevy of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority sisters with whom she maintained life-long bonds. After college graduation, practicality set in. She enrolled in business school. She needed to earn a living. WWII was well underway by then, but rationing and privation were eclipsed somewhat by the youth and exuberance she enjoyed with the lively group of social contemporaries she ran with, many of them Kappas. While out partying at the Sunset Inn one night, a handsome young Army Air Corps officer, Lt. William "Bill" W. Wacker, newly assigned to Sandia Base, spotted her (petite, barely 5'3" dark-hair, big brown eyes, with comely figure) and finagled himself an introduction. Months later in 1942, they married and lived in Albuquerque for nearly five years, when they had first a daughter, Carol, then two years later a son, Bruce. Geri escaped the monotony of child rearing, domesticity and loneliness (due to her husband's frequent TDYs) by playing golf at the Albuquerque Country Club with her other "war widow" friends. This ended when they received their first assignment in late 1948 to Lajes AB on the Azores islands, Portugal. There she was a young matron with two extra attributes much appreciated by her contemporaries. First, her fluency in Spanish allowed her to fairly easily engage in conversation with the Portuguese. She became the go-to person through whom many of the wives would communicate with their maids (Yes, they had maids then!). Secondly, she began to sell a brand new product, Tupperware. It was prized because it kept-out the high humidity and the tiny, tiny ants! Being stationed on that rocky island cemented many firm friendships. The Officers Club was a rollicking place equipped with clanging slot machines, high spirits, good food, camaraderie and lots of traffic coming through from the States. After nearly three years (including a month long family vacation tour trip through Europe) their next assignment took them State-side to Washington, DC, the Pentagon, and a small Washingtonian walk-out in Alexandria, VA. It was a good tour, but for a gal from out West who had relished the prior exoticness of Europe, the East Coast congestion and life (before the advent of air conditioning) left much to be desired. But at least now visits to their families, both located in Albuquerque, were doable about once a year. The next assignment brought them to Colorado Springs, CO, with the newly formed Air Force Academy Construction Agency which saw the commencement of construction on that great military Academy. Living in a beautiful town, a brand-new house, both being able to resume playing golf, first at Patty Jewett and then joining a newly built Country Club, and close proximity to families in Albuquerque, plus the tightly knit social group from the Agency, made it the near-perfect assignment. Geri, a natural born artist, became not only a competitive golfer; she resumed playing tennis; became an excellent self-taught cook; a gardener, sewer and knitter. Her house plants were prolific. She also grew to be a shrewd and accomplished financial investor. There followed numerous assignments and extensions, ending finally when the Air Force sent Bill for a remote, 13 month tour to Osan, Korea. Geri remained at home, tasked with raising two teenagers, running the household, keeping a demanding yard green, cut and blooming, while fitting in as much tennis and golf as possible. She took active leadership in the Women's Country Club Golf Association, even down to supervising the construction and decorating the Women's Locker Room at the club. Her golf and tennis at an apex, she competed throughout the area, at the Broadmoor, the Air Force Academy, Fountain Valley and the Garden of the Gods. Upon Bill's return, there were two more tours in the area and then they put-in for retirement. Repatriating to Albuquerque as they always thought they would, didn't happen. They'd become interwoven with the active life in the Springs and by then, their roots and friends were too numerous to leave. With the kids in college and beginning their own lives, Geri and Bill had time to travel, reconnect with old Albuquerque folks and play at various golf meccas all over the US, which they did. Ah, the golden years! In the mid '80s things began to shift. Bill became much more limited due to repeated, less-than-successful hip operations, among other factors. Geri required two extended hospital stays. The marriage was strained, so they each agreed to sell the house and down-size into separate domiciles for a while. But, it became permanent. Geri took an apartment in the Medalion Retirement Community and made friends quickly. She was especially close to another resident who was just as plucky but already 100 years old! The two became fast friends and a dynamic duo, walking floor after floor in the high rise to get their exercise. As time passed her needs minimized, and she moved into assisted living, followed a few years later by another move into the nursing home. She was not doing well. In late 2009 it was agreed she should return to Albuquerque to live near her daughter and family so she could be more closely looked after. She became a resident at the Village at Alameda the following February in a spacious suite, enjoying gentle, attentive and excellent care from all the staff, and the food. Admired for her quick-quips and easy, good humor, she relished the care they gave her and her relationships; especially with the attendants. They occasionally found her dozing off after finishing her meal in the dining room, but ever eager to take up her spot in the lobby by the warmth of the fireplace, joining her companions, and ever watchful for a family member's possible entrance. She had almost three good years at the Village. With her doctor's (Dr. Camilla Tapia) suggestion, Hospice of the Sandias began attending her about six months ago. Most recently their nurse, Mary Newell, was visiting daily, keeping tabs on her with health checks and conversation. Geri slipped gently into her final slumber and passed away at 11 AM, Monday, January 21st with family at her bed-side. She was 94. Geri was preceded in death by her parents and husband, Bill. She is survived by daughter, Carol (husband Gerald P. "Pat") Chapman, grandsons Devin H. Chapman and Ryan M. Chapman; also, her son Bruce and children, granddaughter Monica Courtney, great-granddaughter Madison Courtney, granddaughter Laura Wacker, grandson David Wacker and granddaughter Diana Wacker. After cremation, a memorial reception will be held for her at 2:30p.m. on Saturday, February 9th in Colorado Springs at First Lutheran Church, 1515 North Cascade, that friends and relatives there may wish to attend. For those desiring to make a (tax deductible) memorial contribution, they may do so to the Hubbell House Alliance (a 501c3), Gutierrez Hubbell House, 6029 Isleta Blvd, Albuquerque, NM 87105. God Bless!

Published in The Gazette from Feb. 8 to Feb. 9, 2013
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