Santa Fe Living Treasures – Elder Stories

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A. Samuel Adelo



Honored November, 2005

A. Samuel Adelo

When people try to describe A. Samuel "Sam" Adelo, a word they come up with almost every time is "gentleman." This soft-spoken and invariably courteous man quietly exudes an innate appreciation for the worth of other human beings, from the highest to the least.

Over the course of his long, rich life, which began in 1923 in the village of Pecos, N. M., Sam has interacted with an astonishing array of people, always graciously. In his ongoing education he won degrees from St. Michael's High School, Notre Dame University, Northwestern University and Southern Methodist University, among other schools, and taught at the college level in several places. When his country needed him in World War II, he served in the Army. After earning two degrees in law, he had a 25-year international legal career, working in the United States, Latin America, Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. When he retired in 1984, he was a chief counsel for the Gulf Oil Corp.

Then after his so-called "retirement," Sam embarked upon a new career, which continues to this day. Certified for three decades as a Spanish-English interpreter for the U.S. State Department and other agencies, he offered his services to the court system of New Mexico, one of few states that officially recognize two languages. Now for another 20 years he has been a court translator, a job as essential today as ever, with the ever-rising stream of immigrants.

His cases range from complex international financial matters to the most basic and reprehensible crimes of violence. But always a true professional, Sam treats every person--and also every family--with utmost courtesy as the American legal system strives for justice. His efforts draw high praise from virtually every judge and lawyer.

In his spare time Sam has worked for numerous causes, including museums, women's rights, Santa Fe Beautiful, the Old Santa Fe Association, and immigrant custodians at Santa Fe Community College. For several non-profit groups he has translated brochures into Spanish. With his wife Lauretta he has "adopted" a roadway median near the downtown post office. And for anyone curious about that first initial "A." in Sam's name, it stands for Abdallah--his father was a proud Lebanese immigrant to the United States.

Story by Richard McCord

Photo © 2005 Steve Northrup