Glenda Chavez gives introductory remarks at the burial ceremony. Attending the service was (from left): Magdalena Trustee Clark Brown, Magdalena, Mayor Richard Rumpf, Chavez, Socorro County Manager Michael Hawkes, Jennifer Montoya, District 4 Commissioner Glen Duggins, Micaela Zamora, District 2 Commissioner Craig Secatero and District 5 Commissioner Ray Martinez.
John Larson | El Defensor Chieftain

It was a decidedly somber gathering last week when Socorro County and Magdalena village officials oversaw the burial of the ashes of six indigent county residents in a short ceremony on a hillside at Magdalena’s cemetery.

The gravesite memorial service was presided over by Socorro County Manager Michael Hwkes and Magdalena Mayor Richard Rumpf, who offered condolences to those for whom no one had mourned.

“Let us hold fast to that which is good,” Rumpf said. “Render no person evil for evil, strengthen the faint-hearted, support the weak, help the needy and the afflicted, and honor all people.”

Magdalena Mayor Richard Rumpf (left) delivers condolences and leads a gravesite prayer at the village cemetery.
John Larson | El Defensor Chieftain

In his dedication, Hawkes gave a special thank you to the village for donating the six plots “to lay to rest our beloved community members to rest.

“No one can say what brought them here today or by what means left them alone and to pass fairly unnoticed and without much thought,” Hawkes said.

The burial was facilitated by Daniels Family Funeral Services of Socorro, which had been storing the cremated remains in its facility.

Glenda Chavez, representing the funeral home, said it was a good thing for the Socorro County community on the whole to pay respect to the decedents.

“Those before us are our own and members of our community and one of us” Chavez said. “These people … are someone’s mother, father, brother, sister, son or daughter and we are laying them to rest with kindness and respect.”

She said she appreciated those attending, “as we lay to rest members of our community and they are not alone and are remembered.

“I appreciate your kindness and when we see an unfamiliar face, glimpse or shadow that passes us by let us remember that each person is important and has their own story,” Chavez said.

Glenda Chavez of Daniels Family Funeral Services sprinkled a handful of earth onto each urn prior to burial.
John Larson | El Defensor Chieftain

The deceased and dates of cremation were:

  • Rose Elizabeth Baca, Feb. 2019
  • Amelia Fuentes, Mar. 2017
  • Leonard Hutzun, July 2016
  • Robert William Jones, Mar. 2017
  • Ronald Martin, Apri. 2018
  • Oweena Scott, Feb. 2018

The burial was necessitated by a state law that mandates county governments to be responsible for deceased indigent persons. The Socorro County government, which has no official cemetery, turned to Magdalena for help with the interment of the remains. County Commissioner Ray Martinez, who was in attendance, had pointed out at the last commission meeting a Memorandum of Understanding between the village and county was a good example of two governmental entities working together “for the betterment of our county citizens.”

The MOU states that Magdalena will provide the county with designated burial plots on an as-needed basis and will make sure the plots will be appropriately laid out.

Besides Hawkes and Martinez, representing the county were Micaela Zamora and Jennifer Montoya from the manager’s office, Commissioner Craig Secatero, and Commissioner Glen Duggins, who delivered an acapella rendition of Amazing Grace.

Also in attendance were Magdalena Trustee Clark Brown and Assistant village Clerk Sabrina Aragon.

At the end of the 20 minute service, Martinez grabbed a shovel to help the village’s utility worker Nehemiah Peralta cover the six funeral urns.