Santa Fe Living Treasures – Elder Stories

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Gloria Sawtell

Gloria Sawtell


Honored December, 1991

Gloria C. Sawtell

Gloria Sawtell, one of Santa Fe’s most active volunteers, first came to Santa Fe with her family in 1928. She was only three years old. “My parents loved Santa Fe,” said the native of Omaha, Nebraska. “We visited for a month every summer, until world War II.”

Following her graduation from Stanford University and marriage, Gloria intended to share her love of Santa Fe with her husband, Bill. The couple came to Santa Fe on their wedding trip, spending their honeymoon at Bishop’s Lodge.

Finally, after years of volunteer service in Omaha, where she worked with special-needs children in Junior League efforts, and later became director of the Omaha Volunteer Bureau, Gloria moved permanently to Santa Fe in 1972 with her husband, Bill. She joined the League of Women Voters, serving as president for two years, then began the Volunteer Involvement Service. She served on the board of the Opera Guild, then became a founding board member of the Santa Fe Community Foundation, working in this capacity for over a decade. She has also been a program chairman for Leadership Santa Fe, a nine-month training session for those who wish to become involved with Santa Fe civic activities sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, as well as a volunteer at the Museum of New Mexico.

“In 1982, when the Community Foundation started, it was a new concept,” she said. “The purpose: to develop large resources of endowed funds with the income invested in a diversity of projects”—education, arts, parks, for example—persuaded her the organization could make a significant contribution to Santa Fe.

Another of her activities was the New Mexico Citizens Bee, and event where senior citizens compete on their knowledge of civics, the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, and other aspects of government. She is the mother of two children.

Gloria’s early and lifelong love of Santa Fe influenced many other decisions in her life. In college, she studied Spanish and Latin American affairs; when she traveled, it was to Spain and Mexico. These and other experiences somehow brought her closer to the City Different.

“One of my early memories is taking a horse trip from Pecos to Santa Fe. We rode our horses down Canyon Road, and the people came out and cheered. It was October. We went to La Fonda, and there was a fire in the big fireplace.”

She cherishes memories of early Fiestas, where the entire community came out, walked in parades carrying candles, and greeted each other on the plaza where there would be a merry-go-round. “The place was so alive!” she recalled.

Please see Volume 1 for complete text.
Photo ©1997 by Joanne Rijmes