Donald Kenneth Gutierrez, died Oct. 29, 2013, peacefully at Gentiva Hospice with family at his side. He was born March 10, 1932, in Oakland, Calif., to Alicia Ruiz Chamorro and J. Salvador Gutierrez. He lived most of his young life in San Francisco and the Bay Area, where he attended Sequoia High School in Redwood City, maintained an excellent academic record and also became a star player on the varsity basketball team. For much of his impressively productive life, Don always found hoops close by to practice his signature shots. Don went on to receive his B.A. in English Literature and M.L.S. at UC Berkeley in 1958. While there he met and soon married the beautiful and immensely gifted artist Marlene Zander. Together they would travel from the West Coast to the East Coast where Don would apply his librarian skills at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Library and later with Grosset and Dunlap publishers. They would return to California where Don earned his PhD from UCLA in 1964 and soon accepted a teaching position at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind. The family then moved to New Mexico where Don taught English Literature at Western New Mexico University for several more years before retiring to Albuquerque. Despite the demanding teaching loads which he took very seriously, Don also persevered in his creative drives, sustaining a brilliant career as a poet, literary critic, and essayist. In more recent years, he also emerged as a deeply committed champion of humanitarian causes and social justice, all evidenced in his vast contributions in books, essays, articles, book reviews, papers translated into Spanish, lectures, public readings, and participation in many public protests. Don ultimately wrote seven books and over 50 essays which were published. His most recent book, a collection of essays on social justice titled "Feeling the Unthinkable" published by Amador Books, is a finalist in the New Mexico-Arizona 2013 Book Awards. Don was predeceased in August 2011 by the love of his life, Marlene. He is survived by his two sons, of whom he was deeply proud, Hector and wife Kathryn of Alta Loma, Calif., and Trajan of Albuquerque, NM, granddaughters Nastassja and Ashley and husband Esteban, great granddaughter Zoe Marlene, sister Lolita Gutierrez Brockington of Chapel Hill, NC, and brother Dale Gutierrez of San Francisco, Calif. A memorial service will be held on Saturday Nov. 16, 2013, at 10:30 a.m. at UNM Alumni Chapel. Don was an inspiring and compassionate man who was loved and will be sorely missed by his family and his many friends and colleagues, but his rich legacy will endure for many years to come!
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Published in Las Cruces Sun-News on Nov. 13, 2013