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Arnulfo Tafoya Zamora

March 24, 1930 December 5, 2015
Arnulfo Tafoya Zamora
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Obituary for Arnulfo Tafoya Zamora

Long time Denver resident Arnulfo “Art” Tafoya Zamora passed on Saturday, December 5th at his current residence at the Windcrest Community in Highlands Ranch. Art was a leader in Denver’s Hispanic community and an advisor and friend to many people.

Arnulfo “Art” Tafoya Zamora was born in 1930 in Armijo, New Mexico. His parents were Vivianita “Wooly” Zamora and Martin Zamora. He grew up there with his four siblings Tacho, Fredo, Tita and Mary. In school, Art loved sports and played baseball, basketball and football. While in Socorro High School he participated in the New Mexico National Guard.

After graduating high school in 1949, Art entered the US Navy, and served as a Boatswain’s Mate until 1953.

After his Navy service, Art attended the University of California, Berkeley, earning a Bachelor of Science Degree and a Masters Degree, both in Social Welfare. After graduating, he completed two years of social welfare field placement before becoming a Social Worker for Catholic Social Services of San Francisco. He often related a story about being the only Spanish speaker in the organization: When visiting a Spanish speaking client he was asked if he would speak with some of her friends. On his return he was greeted with a long line of people waiting to speak with him. Because they were accustomed to helpful visits only from priests, they called him “Father Zamora.” Art continued his work with Catholic Social Services, as a Social Worker until taking a position of Program Coordinator with the Economic Opportunity Council of San Francisco, eventually rising to Associate Director for Community Action Programs in 1969.

During this time, Art married Adelita Sanchez. The couple had three children: Martin, Valerie, and Nicholas. The three siblings share fond memories of the years in San Francisco, with outings to the Cliff House to see Seal Rock, Mel’s Diner, picnics of local sourdough bread and salami, exciting visits to Playland, and fun in Stern Grove Park.

An opportunity and a 1970 move to Denver, Colorado, saw Art employed by the federal government in the US Regional Office of the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), working to aid colleges and universities in developing programs to prepare rehabilitation workers to provide services to handicapped individuals. Art continued to work for the federal government until his retirement in 1992, providing key expertise in educational programs, grants and services for disabled and underserved individuals and organizations.

Art’s love of sports continued throughout his life, and at lunch he could often be found at Denver’s 20th Street Gym, playing basketball. After retirement, he continued to play for some time and also coached teams in Lakewood. Art was a sports fan as well. He attended many Rockies games through the years, and in 2007 he and Marty attended the Rockies v. Boston World Series.

After a divorce, Art married Julie Ann McNeilly. They met through work. Julie Ann was a skilled sign language interpreter and was involved in developing a sign language interpreter training program. They crossed paths frequently, and after plenty of late day coffees, came together, eventually to marry in 1983. For over 32 years, they enjoyed many wonderful times together and remained married through his passing. In particular, they enjoyed the outdoors and shared many explorations of states across the US - from a backpacking honeymoon in Rocky Mountain National Park (with Julie’s dog Holly), to widespread destinations in their bright blue VW camper.

There were many family dinner gatherings at their house on W 51st Ave. in Denver, and many steaks grilled (often a small one for Alfie, the dog). A particular favorite was Art’s delicious “Fire Meat” and posole. Art was a long time gardener, and he and Julie Ann ensured that the back yard was always bountiful with vegetables and fruit from the trees - and raspberries! This warm backyard was always a fun play place for his grandchildren Shankar, Erin and Rio.

Throughout his working career, and especially after his retirement, Art worked to support the many causes and organizations that were important to him. He served on numerous civic organizations, committees and boards - bringing his long expertise to the table. These included the national board of the Association for the Advancement of Retired Persons (AARP), the national and Colorado boards of the Epilepsy Foundation, and as the Director of the Board for the Senior’s Resource Center in Denver. He was also appointed to several committees and councils by Colorado Governors Roy Romer and Bill Ritter, Jr. These included the Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council, the Developmental Disabilities Planning Council, and the Colorado State Board of Human Services.

Art was a long time supporter and participant in the Colorado Republican Party, aiding in the campaigns of several candidates. He also helped start the Colorado Republican Businessmen’s Coalition to promote and protect the interests of small business people in Colorado. He worked with Joseph Chavez, Tony Esposito, Jane Norton, Walt Curtner and other notable Colorado business people to launch and grow the now thriving organization.

We all hold an eternal place in our hearts and memories for Art - Brother, Dad, Grandpa, Uncle, Husband… and dear Friend. He will be lovingly remembered for his soft-spoken kindness, his intelligence and caring, and the unconditional love he brought to us all. Thank you Art.

Arnulfo “Art” Tafoya Zamora is survived by his sister Mary Ulibarri in Albuquerque; wife, Julie Ann Zamora; son Dr. Martin Robert Zamora; daughter Valerie Lynn Zamora; son Nicholas Joseph Zamora; grandchildren Shankar, Erin and Rio; and many nephews, nieces and extended family.

In lieu of flowers and remembrance gifts, please direct a donation to the Senior’s Resource Center in Denver: http://srcaging.org

To plant a tree in memory of Arnulfo Tafoya Zamora, visit the Tribute Store.

Previous Events

Visitation

Monday

14

Dec

10:30 AM 12/14/2015 10:30:00 AM - 11:00 AM 12/14/2015 11:00:00 AM
The Chapel at Ellis Family Services

13436 West Arbor Place
Littleton, CO 80127

The Chapel at Ellis Family Services
13436 West Arbor Place Littleton 80127 CO
United States

Service

Monday

14

Dec

11:00 AM 12/14/2015 11:00:00 AM - 11:30 AM 12/14/2015 11:30:00 AM
The Chapel at Ellis Family Services

13436 West Arbor Place
Littleton, CO 80127

Rosary

The Chapel at Ellis Family Services
13436 West Arbor Place Littleton 80127 CO
United States

Service

Monday

14

Dec

11:30 AM 12/14/2015 11:30:00 AM - 12:30 PM 12/14/2015 12:30:00 PM
The Chapel at Ellis Family Services

13436 West Arbor Place
Littleton, CO 80127

The Chapel at Ellis Family Services
13436 West Arbor Place Littleton 80127 CO
United States

Graveside

Monday

14

Dec

1:00 PM 12/14/2015 1:00:00 PM - 1:30 PM 12/14/2015 1:30:00 PM
Fort Logan National Cemetery

3698 South Sheridan Boulevard
Denver, CO 80235

Fort Logan National Cemetery
3698 South Sheridan Boulevard Denver 80235 CO
United States

Cemetery Details

Location

Fort Logan National Cemetery Final Resting Place

3698 South Sheridan Boulevard
Denver, CO 80235

3698 South Sheridan Boulevard Denver 80235 CO
United States

Memorial Contribution

Seniors Resource Center

3227 Chase Street
Denver , CO 80212
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