Santa Fe Living Treasures – Elder Stories

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Socorro Vigil de Aragon

Honored April, 2015

Socorro Vigil de Aragon

Socorro in Spanish means help, and it's the perfect name for Socorro Aragon. Socorro has dedicated her life to preserving and promoting Santa Fe's unique rich culture and history. Socorro's contribution to Santa Fe and her profound influence on the many lives she's touched is seen in her life's journey. She was born into a traditional Spanish-American family with roots from Spain going back more than 400 years. What is now Canyon road, was once a dirt road, with modest adobe homes occupied by her family, extended family and close friends. Socorro learned the importance of generosity and devotion, as neighbor helped neighbor.

She is a teacher, a playwright/actress, a preservationist/historian, church volunteer, legislative liaison, activist, pioneer woman in the NM State Government, wife, and Mother. Her Christian faith is central to everything she does.

The first in her family to get a college education, Socorro went on to teach junior and high school home economics. Socorro was a role model, and the inspiration of former students to became educators. They said, “Socorro taught with respect, kindness, professionalism, and a patient guidance. She was dignified and graceful. She imparted to many of us life-long lessons of organization, management and leadership. “She was chosen to set up a curriculum in Home Economics for USAID in Colombia, South America.

In the 70's and 80's when few women were in management positions in New Mexico State Government, Socorro worked with the New Mexico State and U.S. Department of Labor. She developed and provided counseling and job training and placement for at risk youth through the Neighborhood Youth Corps. Because of her gentle and caring, manner Socorro instilled trust and confidence for students who had been unable to cope in a traditional educational system.

As Director of Human Resources for the New Mexico House of Representatives she drafted personnel rules, created a training manual, processed hundreds of applications for supportive jobs. Lorene Mills, a press person working in the capital said Socorro served as the institutional memory of decades of legislative events and political history. Justice Patricio Serna remarked he always loved dropping by Socrro's office because the visits were always enjoyable and productive.

It only skims the surface to mention some of her lifetime contributions and awards:

Socorro spearheaded the creation of Cathedral Park, saving it from becoming grounds for a hotel or some other business. She oversaw every aspect of the Park, from fundraising to the production of donor bricks in the park pathway, to the supervision of the writing of the park's historical plaques (which honors all the European settlers and Spanish settlers New Mexico's early settlers.) to maintaining the park.

She was a member of the “Friends of the Palace of Governors” and also helped secure the federal and state funding for the New Mexico History Museum which was completed in 2010. Our living history museum, El Rancho de las Goldondrinas, exists today because of Socorro's efforts as one of its founders.

Socorro worked tirelessly to officially commemorate the City of Santa Fe's Cuartocentenario 400th Anniversary. The Mexican Consulate awarded her a Certificate of Recognition for linking our histories during Santa Fe's 400th Anniversary Celebration.

Socorro is the heartbeat of La Sociedad Folklorica, a women's organization that preservers the language, culture, and history of Spanish Colonial New Mexico. She writes, directs and acts in comedic plays depicting happenings of New Mexico. The Folklorica group also puts on a fashion show wearing apparel dating back to the 1800s. First Lady Clara Apodoca wrote. The show which featured the members as models with a display of elegant gowns from their collection was one of the highlights of my time at the Mansion.”

In 2011 The King of Spain honored Socorro with the coveted Isabela Catolica Award. She has been recognized nationally as Who's Who among American Universities and Who's Who Amongst Hispanic Educators. Socorro was recently named one of Santa Fe's Ten Who Make a Difference.

We received many letters from people of all walks of life ranging from dignitaries, diplomats, present and past NM Supreme Court Judges, Legislature Colleagues, the Mayor (her nephew), other Living Treasures, Thomas Chavez, the former Executive Director of the Palace of the Governors and the National Hispanic Cultural Center, former students and her family offering grateful testimonials for all she has done for our city. Everyone who knows Socorro will tell you she is a beautiful and poised woman-- she's living history --who's real accomplishments are evident and visible in our city—and are manifested in the countless lives she's touched and the community she has helped transform.



Story by Nancy Dahl

Photo © 2015 by Genevieve Russell