Santa Fe Living Treasures – Elder Stories

All along, Gonzales felt a deep concern for the disadvantaged and the poor. From his first days in practice, in the early 1940s, he became, in the words of his son Albert Jr., "a one-man legal-aid service before there was a Legal Aid Society." He irritated the state Bar Association by taking minimal payment or even bags of chile for his work.

His most famous client was land-grant activist Reies Lopez Tijuana, in the mid-1960s.

Yet for all his countless accomplishments, Gonzales always managed to leave his work at the office when he came home, to be a loving husband and father. Friends call him gregarious, charming, determined, stubborn, the life of the party, "an optimist," "a man of intense resolve," "a fighter for the people," and, of course, "inspiring."

From southern New Mexico he moved to Santa Fe in 1940, because “people were nicer to me here.” He asked for no special treatment, and often got around by himself, with the help of buses, taxis and his seeing-eye dog. For many years the only city crosswalk that had a beeper in addition to traffic signals was across Palace Avenue to the county courthouse, installed in recognition of Gonzales' frequent appearances there. Only when he began to go deaf did he retire, after leaving an indelible mark on Santa Fe.

Story by Richard McCord
Photo © 2004 Steve Northrup