Donald Joseph Archuleta
December 10, 1930 – November 12, 2021
Donald Joseph Archuleta passed away peacefully on November 12, 2021. He was 90 years old.
Donald was born on December 10, 1930, in Brighton, CO to Moses Archuleta and Florence Trujillo. He had nine siblings, Fermin, Viola, Lawrence, Richard, Ester, Edward, Raymond, Lucille, and Leroy. His father worked the mines in the winter and the orchards in the summer. Donald remembered making little crosses out of twigs for the dead field mice and his father saving a little bit of his lunch from his mining lunch bucket for him. The family had a Ford with a radio and in 1936 the kids gathered around the car to hear the Joe Lewis/Max Schmeling heavyweight title fight. The family moved to east Denver for better job opportunities. As a boy, Donald brought money home for the family by selling newspapers on the corner and later as a teenager by delivering ice at the Denargo Market (29th and Broadway). He graduated from Manuel High School in 1949, participating in track and playing trumpet in the band.
He proudly served as a radioman in the United States Navy during the Korean War. The job required he translate morse code and type quickly. Despite missing the tips of two fingers and a thumb on his left hand he won commendations for his speed and accuracy.
After returning home to Denver, Donald began dating Maxine Gloria Garcia. They had known each other at Manual High School but didn’t date. Maxine recalled visiting Donald’s mother’s house for the first time to find she was roasting a goat’s head in the oven. Undeterred, Maxine married into the Archuleta family on April 14, 1956. They honeymooned at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs.
Donald began working in the hot, backbreaking roofing business. Luck would shine on him when the federal government began looking for air traffic controllers for the nascent Federal Aviation Administration. They were looking for former military radiomen and paying good wages. The only drawback is that Donald would have to train in San Francisco. He and Maxine agreed it was worth the risk and his wife and their infant daughter Claudia (born in 1957) moved back in with her mother Caroline Garcia.
After training, the FAA placed Donald at the Denver center to serve Stapleton Airport’s expanding service. Maxine and Donald’s family expanded with the adoption of Troy in 1961, and the birth of Mark in 1964. His job took him to Oklahoma City and then on a special assignment to South America where he served as a consultant to the United Nations. The family lived in Lima, Peru for nearly a year, surviving the 1970 Ancash earthquake that killed 50,000 Peruvians. In his consultant role, Donald traveled throughout South America. He had a sense of humor about himself. He often told the story of how he was late for a meeting and apologized, saying in broken Spanish, “Soy embarazada.” The men in the room chuckled. Donald had said he was pregnant, not embarrassed.
Donald moved the family to Longmont in 1974 to work at the FAA center on 17th Avenue. Claudia (’75) and Troy (’77) graduated from Longmont High School. After retirement, Maxine and Donald relocated to Lyons where Mark graduated (’82). Donald was an avid Broncos, Nuggets, Colorado Rockies (hockey), Colorado Avalanche, and Colorado Rockies (baseball) fan. He loved fly fishing at Brainard Lake and spending the winters in Yuma, Arizona. Donald collected research on his Basque heritage and the Archuleta role in the founding of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Maxine and Donald also lived in Loveland and Frederick before spending their last years in Longmont. They were together until she died in August 2016.
Donald is survived by his children, Claudia Archuleta, Troy Archuleta, and Mark Archuleta; and grandchildren, Austin Tingley, Paris Tingley, and Max Archuleta.
A Graveside Service will be held on what would have been Donald’s 91st birthday on Friday, December 10, 2021 at 11:00am at Foothills Gardens of Memory in Longmont, CO. Fond memories and condolences may be shared at www.ahlbergfuneralchapel.com.
Foothills Gardens of Memory
Donald Joseph Archuleta
November 27, 2021
UNCLE DONALD ALWAYS HAD NICE WORDS TO EXPRESS. I WAS VERY FORTUNATE TO BE ABLE TO HAVE CONVERSATIONS WITH HIM THE PAST FEW YEARS. HE HAD A GOOD SENSE OF HUMOR,AND A GOOD MEMORY. I USED TO TELL HIM"UNCLE DONALD" YOUR THE LAST OF THE MOHEGANS. WE JUST LAUGHED ON THAT ONE. MY PRAYERS WILL BE FOR HIM ALWAYS. NEPHEW SPENCER!