Author Rudolfo Anaya died at his home in Albuquerque on Sunday among friends and family at the age of 82.
A titan in his field and recipient of the 2015 National Humanities Medal, the Bless Me Ultima scribe had phased into writing children's books in the last few years. 2018's Owl in a Straw Hat/El Tecolote Del Sombrero de Paja, written by Anaya and illustrated by El Moisés, was a bilingual love letter to children growing up in New Mexico, and its 2019 followup, No More Bullies!/¡No Más Bullies deepened his owl character's lore while offering wisdom about bullies to youths.
Anaya was also no stranger to the pages and website of SFR.
In 2009, former SFR writer Charlotte Jusinski dubbed Anaya's Shaman Winter the Best Locally Authored Book of the year, and a 2012 review of the film version of Bless Me Ultima had writer Jose Chavez saying it helped him "understand why New Mexicans are so proud of this story." That same year, Anaya spoke at the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival about the movie, saying "Finally, our culture is on the screen," and SFR was there to capture it in video.
In a statement today, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said, "I am deeply saddened today to hear of the death of Rudolfo Anaya, one of New Mexico's greatest artists, a seminal figure in our state's rich literary history. Through his indelible stories, Rudolfo Anaya, perhaps better than any other author, truly captured what it means to be a New Mexican, what it means to be born here, grow up here and live here. His life's work amounts to an incredible contribution to the great culture and fabric of our state—not only through his prodigious literary contributions but through his decades as an educator at the University of New Mexico."
Congressman Ben Ray Luján D-New, Mexico, also issued a statement:
"New Mexico is mourning the loss of our beloved friend and brother, Rudolfo Anaya, whose work touched the lives of countless Americans. Mr. Anaya left an indelible mark on Chicano literature and on New Mexic–and his work reflected his love for New Mexico's cultures and traditions. I'm honored to own a signed copy of 'The Farolitos of Christmas,' which illustrates how farolitos and luminarias came to be a favorite holiday tradition.
Mr. Anaya dedicated his life to inspiring others, including as an educator at Albuquerque Public Schools and the University of New Mexico. He was also recognized for his life's work by President Barack Obama with the National Humanities Medal. As we grieve this loss, let us turn to his writings to help us celebrate his legacy. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and all those who turned to him for inspiration."
A memorial for the public will reportedly be announced soon.