Paul was born on Jan. 16, 1921, to Pablita Pacheco (nee Fresquez) and Leopoldo Pacheco in his parents’ home in Arabela, N.M. Pablita and Leopoldo had both survived their first spouses who died in the flu pandemic of 1918. Pablita, a widow, had two young children, Cleo and George, by her first marriage, when she married Leopoldo, a widower. They had three more children, the oldest of whom was Paul, then Sally, and Marie. Paul’s early childhood was spent playing, exploring, and working in the pastures and sheep camps of his father’s vast ranch, where he maintained a herd of several thousand sheep. The family also had a home in Roswell, N.M. Both his parents valued education and Paul began his schooling when he was only 4 years old, attending a one-room adobe school house close to their home, subsequently attending elementary and high school in Roswell. He graduated from NMMI in 1941, and eventually received his BA from Notre Dame University in 1943.
After graduating from Notre Dame, he was drafted and served in the infantry in World War II. He entered the European theater, where he fought in France and Germany, arriving with the second invasion of Normandy in 1944. He fought in the following campaigns: St. Malo, Luxembourg, Battle at the Hurtgen Forest, the Battle of the Bulge, and Rhineland. He received the Bronze Star for valor in combat and the Purple Heart. He served through 1945 when Germany surrendered, a weary witness to that day of victory for the Allies.
He returned to his beloved home in Arabela, where he recuperated in body and spirit from the ravages of war by helping his father again with the ranch business and acquiring his own ranch which adjoined his father’s land. He married Elissa Carmen Miranda in the summer of 1949 and they lived together on their ranch, just three miles from the home in which he was born. They had five children: Arturo, Celani, Cristina, Cecelia, and Carlos. They raised their family there, and Paul divided his time between the daily demands of his ranch and farm business, and his weekend commitment to his other business, The Green Lantern Bar, located in Roswell, N.M.
After 35 years of married life on the ranch, Paul and Elissa retired to a community in Peoria, Arizona. They had an awesome retirement there, made many lasting friends, and in 1992, after 18 years, they moved back to Las Cruces, N.M., to be closer to their family. An avid reader, collector of fossils, and a lifetime student of nature and the human condition, Paul remained active in his mind and body up until the end of his life. Known to his friends as a wonderful storyteller with a knack for remembering in vivid detail, he mastered the art of after-dinner conversations ranging in topic from humorous anecdotes to deep philosophical discussions that lasted for hours over the last cup of coffee and a piece of pie.
He served as an elected County Commissioner for Lincoln County in 1971 and 1972. He very much enjoyed that foray into politics, especially because of the intellectual challenges it presented to him, and because he valued participation in civic affairs. Even in his retirement, he volunteered in Peoria tutoring Mexican residents in English, and working at the St. Vincent De Paul soup kitchen and day care center for the indigent.
Paul is survived by his wife of 64 years, Elissa, his niece who grew up with him as a sister, Belia Velanti, his son, Arturo and his wife Janet, his daughter Celani Dominguez and her husband Domingo, his daughter Cristina Rivera and her husband Frank, his daughter Cecelia Pacheco and her husband Mark Woody, and his youngest son Carlos. He has 14 grandchildren: Arturo Pacheco’s four sons: Arturo Pacheco and his wife Wren Pacheco, Miguel Pacheco, Marcelino Pa-checo and his wife Vanessa Pacheco, and Jared Wellman and his wife Julie Wellman; Celani’s four children: Maria Souktouri and her husband Abderrahim Souktouri, Juan Domingo Dominguez, Sayil Meza and her husband Ben Meza, and Cristian Dominguez; Cristina’s children: Danieli Parker and her husband Chris Parker, and son Francisco Rivera and his wife, Morgan Rivera; Cecelia’s children: Dhaveed Woody, Brahm Woody, and daughter, Mauro Woody; Carlos’s son: Dustin Pacheco and his wife, Misty Pacheco. He is also survived by 13 great grandchildren: Keenan Dominguez, Mathew Pacheco, Jason Pacheco, Misty and Summer Pacheco, Dominick Pacheco, Leah Pacheco, Talib Souktouri, Belen Meza, Paloma Meza, Jacob Parker, Audrey Parker, and Declyn Wellman.
A visitation will be on Thursday Sept. 5, 2013, at Getz Funeral Home from 6-7 p.m., where a prayer vigil will follow at 7 p.m. Funeral Mass will be at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Heart, 1240 Espina St, Friday, Sept. 6, 2013, at 10 a.m. At his request cremation will follow the services. A reception will follow at Hotel Encanto, 705 South Telshor Boulevard. Arrangements are with Getz Funeral Home 1410 E. Bowman Ave. Las Cruces, N.M. 88001. To sign the local online guest book visit www.GetzCares.com.