Santa Fe Living Treasures â€“ Elder Stories
Albert Gonzales, Sr.
As an energetic young man of 16, Albert Gonzales, Sr. was struck blind in 1929, in a diving accident. He never regained his sight, but over the next seven decades he did gain several other things:
a bachelor's degree from New Mexico State University; a law degree from Georgetown University; a law license from the State of New Mexico; seats in the New Mexico Legislature, on the Santa Fe School Board and County Commission, as well as on many other elective and appointive bodies; a wife for almost 50 years, and three children; a local road and elementary school named for him; a thriving real-estate business; recognition as one of the five most distinguished blind persons in the nation; and the undying gratitude of the clients he served in some 8,500 legal cases, often at sharply reduced rates, or even free, for people who were "down on their luck."
Only temporarily sidetracked by his "handicap," Gonzales pushed for excellence in all that he did. He was the first blind student to graduate from NMSU and Georgetown Law School, and the first blind member of the New Mexico bar. He was voted the most outstanding man in his graduating class at Georgetown, where he paid other students 25 cents an hour to read to him. He was a founder of the New Mexico Association of the Blind. He has been listed in Whoâ€™s Who in America. And before his retirement in 2001, at the age of 88, he was recognized as the oldest practitioner of law in New Mexico.