Juan José Peña

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  • "Juan and I knew each other for many years. We were..."
    - Roberto Martinez
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    - Roman GARCIA
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    - Pete Martinez
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Juan José Peña passed away from illness on Monday, June 11, 2018 at age 72 at the Raymond Murphy V.A. Medical Center in Albuquerque, N.M. He was born in Hagerman, N.M. and later moved to Las Vegas, N.M. as a young child.
He was a proud graduate of New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas. There, he earned his bachelor's and master's degrees, both with a focus in Spanish Language, Literature, and Political Science.
He was also a Ph.D. candidate in Latin American Literature with a dual minor in Spanish Peninsular Literature, and Brazilian/Portuguese Language and Literature.
He was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1969 to fight in the Vietnam War. He was the most highly decorated member of the Fourth Infantry Division when the Division returned to the U.S. in November of 1970.
Upon his return to the U.S. after his tour of service and the completion of his MA degree, he started working as a professor for Highlands University.
In 1983, he moved to Albuquerque, working as a supervisory interpreter for the U.S. District Court. He was fluent in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and German, as well as Vietnamese and French, at one point. He retired in 2005, working as freelance interpreter afterwards.
Very politically involved, he was in multiple Who's Who editions. He was passionate about fighting for the civil rights of those who faced discrimination and received many awards for his dedication.
Among the many organizations with which he was involved, he was a leader in Partido Raza Unida, commander of the Albuquerque and New Mexico branches of the American GI Forum, chair and vice-chair of the Hispano Round Table and founding member of Dads Against Discrimination.
In his illustrious life, he met with world leaders, such as Vicente Fox of Mexico, and Yasser Arafat of Palestine. He is remembered as courageous, as well as kind and courteous.
He is survived by his partner of 23 years, Ann Tran; brother Fernando Peña; daughter Margarita Aguilar and grandchildren Shar and Mariana, as well as the multitude of friends and people he has helped over the decades.
He was preceded in death by his mother, Rosa Peña; sister Elena Peña and son Federico Peña.
A rosary will be held at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, June 16, 2018, at Our Lady of Sorrows Church, 403 Valencia, Las Vegas, N.M., 87701, with eulogy and mass to follow. He will be buried in the Peña family plot in Saint Anthony Cemetery in Las Vegas.
Arrangements are under the direction of Rogers Mortuary, 600 Raynolds Ave., Las Vegas. Visit rogersmortuarynm.com to sign the register book.
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Rogers Mortuary - Las Vegas
600 Reynolds Avenue
Las Vegas, NM 87701
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Published in Las Vegas Optic on June 15, 2018
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