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I.E. Eldridge

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Following an extremely independent and active life, I. E. Eldridge, Otero County's beloved "Birdman," took wing to his final reward Sunday, Feb. 21, 2010, at age 83.
I.E., who retired as a fireman at Holloman Air Force Base, spent what he called "the better part of my life" as a bird-breeding expert, with facilities west of Alamogordo.
He specialized in peacocks of every variety, which he provided to sellers in El Paso and around the country, but his operation also included Guinea hens, partridges, turkeys and a variety of exotic fowl. These included a tiny pet Bantam rooster he named El Rey (The King) who considered himself the pens' alpha, intimidating the larger animals.
And it didn't stop there for a man who never arose later than 4 a.m. His skills in growing Mexican elder trees provided local homes and businesses with their growing beauties. The Mexican elder is now Alamogordo's "official" tree, honored on the city's emblem.
I.E. was also known as an expert wood carver, who gave many friends their wooden clocks - not to mention his sheep and beloved dogs. But his favorite crop consisted of grandchildren, for whom he kept a Shetland pony, which put the kids flat on their dandy so often that he gave it away.
The Eldridge family migrated west from Arkansas in the early 1900s during what I.E. called "buckboard and covered wagon times." I.E. was born in rural Texas but grew up to age 13 on a homestead his parents, Ivor and Ethel, established in the Gran Quivira area of New Mexico, near the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument.
His grandfather, Dr. William Henry Smith, was the monument's first ranger and served as the doctor for the Indian pueblos in that region south of Albuquerque.
Alamogordo and Otero County were his beloved home for 70 years, where many knew I.E. from his rough-and-tough younger days to the tranquility of his later years.
He was particularly fond of playing the ponies at Ruidoso Downs, Juarez, Mexico, and also around the country via computer. He always considered himself a winner "because in the end I broke even."
He often gifted friends with music CDs ranging from country to classic, and family members equated him to the Frank Sinatra hit song "I Did It My Way" - which he did.
There is no truth that "my horse Old Smokey drank," he once told a friend, "but I did in my younger days and learned a hard lesson I hope others do."
I.E. was preceded in death by his parents, Ivor and Ethel; his grandparents Dr. Smith and wife, Alice; his wife, Sally Davis Eldridge; sister Helen; brother Travis; and daughter Trini Sanderson-Eldridge.
His survivors include: sister Fran and husband, Herb Baxter, of Alamogordo; brother Deward and wife, Mary Eldridge, of Amarillo, Texas; stepdaughter Alice Wallace and husband, Lane, of Stephensville, Texas; stepson Edward and Connie Allen, of Longmont, Colo.; grandson Shawn Sanderson and his children Baylee and Massey, of Alamogordo; granddaughter Regina Sanderson-Storseth and husband, Mike Storseth, an Alamogordo police officer, and their son James; close neighbor-friends Saturn and Merry Noriega and numerous other friends.
I.E., who seldom was called Ivor Enoch, was cremated and requested no ceremonies.
He did, however, ask his neighbors to water the pink oxalis flowers honoring his mother at the base of one of their trees.
His birds were acquired by a business associate.
Published in Alamogordo Daily News from Feb. 23 to Mar. 11, 2010
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