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John L. Padilla

1928 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
John L. Padilla Obituary
Padilla, John L.

Memorial services for John L. Padilla, 87, of Santa Fe and formerly of Las Vegas, NM, will be held Friday, May 13, 2016, at 3 p.m. at the Santa Fe National Cemetery.

Mr. Padilla passed away in Santa Fe on April 14, after an extended illness. A beloved husband, father, grandfather and friend, he was a respected area teacher and coach for many years. Born June 3, 1928, in Las Vegas, he was the son of the late Nellie Nagelin Padilla and Santiago Padilla. Recognized as a top scholar and high school athlete in football, basketball and track, he earned state honors as a runner whose records stood for many years. He was also named to the National Honor Society, elected vice president of his senior class at LVHS and received the senior class sportsmanship award as best all-around athlete.

After graduating in 1946, he joined the U.S. Army and was stationed in Okinawa for two years. Honorably discharged with the rank of Technician Fourth Grade (T-4), he returned home to marry his longtime sweetheart, Velma Tapia of West Las Vegas, and to enter New Mexico Highlands University. In 1951 he earned his BA degree in History with a minor in Business Education but also found time to run track in college, earning top honors in the classroom and in sports. In 1955 he completed his MA degree in Educational Administration.

His first teaching job was in a one-room schoolhouse in Los Valles de San Agustin Elementary near Las Vegas, where he taught grades 1-6 for one year. He then joined the East Las Vegas elementary schools as a physical education teacher. Several years later he became a history teacher at Robertson High School and also coached track for a time. Afterwards he served as director of bilingual education for the City Schools, went on to become superintendent of schools in Mosquero for a short time and principal at Wagon Mound and Sapello Elementary Schools. During his summers out of the classroom, he was active in the community, coaching and directing the very popular Summer Recreation Program for youth in Las Vegas.

An avid fisherman, especially skilled in fly- and spin-fishing, he particularly enjoyed the adventure of hiking to the high mountain lakes of northern New Mexico to test his fishing skills. His love of the great outdoors also led to his working many summers for the U.S. Forest Service as a ranger in the Gallinas Canyon area. When he wasn't fishing, he also enjoyed playing and watching golf and talking sports. He especially favored his hometown teams -- the Robertson HS Cardinals and the NMHU Cowboys.

He is survived by his son, Darren (Johnna), Santa Fe; daughter, Gail Dixon, Batavia, IL; grandchildren, Kelly Dixon Court (Colin), Los Angeles, CA; Keith Padilla (Katherine), Albuquerque; Alexis Padilla, Santa Fe; and great-grandson, Theo Court, Los Angeles.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Velma; his son, Dr. Kenneth Padilla; his parents; and siblings, Margaret and Paul Padilla.

Friends and family are invited to attend services at the Santa Fe National Cemetery and a reception immediately following. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Presbyterian Medical Services Foundation/ Hospice (505-982-5565) or American Patriot Service for Veterans (888-726-1772) or www.apscnp.org.
Published in Albuquerque Journal on May 8, 2016
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