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Dan Sosa


1923 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
Dan Sosa Obituary

On Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016, New Mexico lost one of her best loved native sons. Dan Sosa Jr. passed peacefully from this life in the same house where he was born 92 years earlier. His wife Rita was at his side, just as she had been for over 66 years.

Dan was born in Las Cruces on Nov. 12, 1923, to Dan Sosa Sr. and Margarita Soto Sosa. He attended Lucero elementary and Central elementary. Dan graduated from Las Cruces Union High in 1941 and was a member of the first basketball team from Las Cruces to win the state championship. Following high school he attended New Mexico A & M, as NMSU was known at the time. His studies were interrupted by the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor. In response to the attack Dan immediately enlisted in the United States Armed Forces. He served with distinction in the 8th Army Air Corps as a bombardier/ navigator on a B-24 Liberator. Dan survived a crash landing on Normandy beach under enemy fire and after completing 35 successful combat missions over Nazi occupied Europe he left the military with the rank of Lieutenant.

Following his service, Dan returned to school in Las Cruces, graduated with a B.A. in Business from New Mexico A & M. He taught school at Mesilla Elementary where he is known to a generation of Mesilleros as their teacher and coach.

Dan continued his education at the University of New Mexico School of Law. It was during law school, Dan met Rita Ortiz of Santa Fe and the two fell in love and married. Dan was in the second graduating class of the Law School. Following graduation the young couple returned to Las Cruces where they reared their seven children. Over the years Dan practiced law in various capacities. He served as Municipal Judge in Las Cruces, and for eight years as District Attorney for the Counties of Dona Ana, Otero and Lincoln. Dan then entered the private practice of law with his partners, Lalo Garza and Glenn Neumeyer.
Justice Sosa was a charter member of "Los Pastores del Valle de Mesilla," established in 1961, a liturgical drama presenting the Biblical Story of our Savior's birth. His role as Lucifer, "El Diablo" will be a memory for many.

In 1975, Dan was appointed by then Governor Jerry Apodaca, to the New Mexico Supreme Court. Dan was one of the longest serving justice of the New Mexico Supreme Court, and until recently was the longest serving Hispanic justice having served seventeen years from 1975, until he left the courts as Chief Justice in 1991. Through his career in the law and his service to others, Justice Sosa shaped the law in New Mexico and inspired generations of young people to become lawyers and judges. His legal opinions and his legacy in the law will live on for years to come.

Following retirement Dan and Rita returned to Las Cruces. For the next several years on Friday nights during football season Dan and sometimes Rita could be found on the fifty yard line at the Field of Dreams. He attended all Cruces High and Mayfield home games and traveled to the state championship game where ever it was held, when either of the teams were playing. At the annual Cruces/Mayfield game he was always conflicted about which side of the stadium to sit because he had deep loyalties to both schools. Dan was always proud of "title town." He was a native of Las Cruces to his very core and would refer to his hometown as "God's country."

Dan was preceded in death by his mother, Margarita Soto Sosa.

He is survived by his sister, Lucia Magallanes of Las Cruces; wife, Rita Ortiz Sosa; seven children, Dan Sosa III and wife Susie Romero Sosa of Albuquerque, Roberta Provencio and husband Joe of Las Cruces, Loretta Gonzalez of Akela, Steve Sosa and wife Elizabeth of Las Cruces, Rita Jo Carver and husband Bobby of Las Cruces, Martin Sosa also of Las Cruces, and Anna Wright and husband Dennis of Santa Fe. Dan is also survived by twenty-six grandchildren; thirty-one great-grandchildren as well as numerous nieces and nephews.

During his life Dan was known by different names. To some he was "Mr. Justice Sosa", to others "teacher" or "coach", and to others simply "Dan". To his children he was "Dad" and to his grandchildren and great grandchildren he was "Grampa No-No"
Dan lived his life by three guiding principles; faith, service to others and humility. These principles shaped and guided all he did. In later life when asked how he was doing he would say, "still vertical by God's grace." These were not mere words for him. He had a deep faith that sustained him in his life and comforted him at his death. He knew all gifts he received and all adversity he faced in life were from God.

On Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016, at 9:45 a.m., a Funeral Mass will be celebrated at the Cathedral Basilica of St Francis of Assisi, 131 Cathedral Place in Santa Fe where Justice Sosa and Rita were married sixty-six years ago. Justice Sosa will then lie in state at the Rotunda of the State Capital from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Flags will fly at half-staff in Santa Fe, to honor Justice Sosa. Thereafter, he will return to Las Cruces where he will be reposing Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., in Baca's Funeral Chapel, 300 E. Boutz Road. Recitation of the Holy Rosary will be the same evening at 7:30 p.m., in the Cathedral of Immaculate Heart of Mary, 1240 S. Espina where the Funeral Mass will be celebrated Friday, Sept. 16, 2016, at 10 a.m. The Rite of Committal and Interment will follow in Hillcrest Memorial Gardens Cemetery, 5140 W. Picacho in the town that he loved. Military honors accorded by a New Mexico National Guard Honor Guard and the Marine Corps League – El Perro Diablo Detachment.

Entrusted to Baca's Funeral Chapels of Las Cruces, 527-2222 Your exclusive providers of "Veterans and Family Memorial Care." For online condolences logon to www.bacasfuneralchapelslascruces.comwww.bacasfuneralchapelslascruces.com
Published in Alamogordo Daily News from Sept. 11 to Oct. 11, 2016
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