Speaker Ben Lujan

Obituary
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Speaker Ben Lujan Ben Lujan ended his beautiful journey in this world with his beloved wife, Carmen, of 53 years, and his pride and joy - his children and grandchildren, by his side. He made the transition to begin his spiritual journey home peacefully on Tuesday evening at 10:45 at CHRISTUS St. Vincent's Hospital. Ben was born to Nestora and Celedon Lujan on July 12, 1935. His father was a sheepherder and was one of the first laborers recruited for the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos. Ben Lujan grew up in very humble beginnings in the Nambe valley where he was born and where he lived all of his life with his wife and children. The original home built by his father remains an intimate part of the family home in Nambe. Ben attended St. Michael's and Pojoaque High Schools. It was there in Pojoaque that he met his sweetheart who would become his lifelong companion and soul mate, his wife Carmen. He was a basketball player and she was a cheerleader. Ben fell in love with Carmen and they were married for 53 years. After graduating from high school, he started college, but finances were tight and because he could not afford to finish college he went off to work. It was this disappointment early in his life that would be the seed that that gave birth to a career in public service. That short-lived dream of becoming the first college graduate in his family forced him into the workforce, and he began his career as an ironworker, which he continued until the day he retired. Ben and Carmen started a family with Shirley, Jackie and Jerome. And as Carmen shares the story, then came our miracle baby, Ben Ray, now Congressman Ben Ray Lujan. Their children blessed them with 9 grandchildren and one great grandson. Ben loved the time he spent with his children, grandchildren, and recently, his great grandson. They live in Nambe near an acequia that Ben fondly reminded his family, "el agua es la vida." Alongside the river of life is a huge majestic cotton wood tree reaching toward the sky planted by the family over 50 years ago that symbolizes the deep and strong cultural and traditional roots that defined a set of core values. Water, land, family and faith in God defined those core values that guided Ben's life. He would say, "You have to work the land to raise your children and be good parents." Ben followed his passion to be in the service of others, which was central to his core values and upbringing. The greatest gift in life he would share "is our ability to use what God gave to us to help make this world a better place." His passion, faith and service converged when he discovered elected office as the vehicle to fulfill his spirit of giving. He was elected to the Santa Fe County Commission in 1970. In 1974, Ben was elected to the New Mexico House of Representatives. He is the only member of the House to serve all three leadership positions. Ben served as the Majority Whip, the Majority Floor Leader and became the second longest Speaker of the House until his passing. He was preceded in death by his parents, Celedon and Nestora Lujan; brothers, Ramos, Gustavo and Nestor; and sisters, Olivama and Josie. He is survived by his wife, Carmen; daughters, Shirley and Jackie (Marvin); sons, Jerome (Johnell) and Ben Ray; grandchildren, Miranda (Eric), Jason, Dominic, Allison, Benjamin, Joseph, Nathaneal, Jordan and Janae; great-grandson, Shane; brothers, Felix (Vera) and Ernesto (Carrie); sister, Matilda; sister-in-law, Celia; and many other family and friends. Ben will lie in state in the Rotunda of the New Mexico State Capitol from 11 am to 2 pm on Thursday, December 27th. A public viewing is scheduled at 5:30 p.m. and a Rosary at 7 p.m. on Friday, December 28th at the Ben Lujan Gymnasium at Pojoaque High School. A Mass of Resurrection is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Saturday, December 29th at St. Francis Cathedral Basilica in Santa Fe and Ben will be laid to rest in Nambe following Mass. A reception is scheduled at the Ben Lujan Gymnasium following interment. The family would like to express their appreciation and gratitude for all the prayers, support and encouragement during Ben's illness. Ben would often say, "It is by the prayers of so many that I remain strong physically and spiritually. Prayers are very powerful." In Lieu of flowers the family requests that memorial contributions be made to the UNM Cancer Center or to the Speaker Ben Lujan Scholarship Memorial Fund at any Century Bank Branch. Carmen and the family have entrusted their care of their loved one to the DeVargas Funeral Home & Crematory of the Española Valley. 505-747-7477 or devargasfuneral.com

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