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Former mayor of Española loved service, pottery, travel

December 22, 2018

Funeral services are scheduled Friday for Consuelo S. “Connie” Thompson, the first female Hispanic mayor of Española and one of the first female Hispanic mayors in the nation.

Thompson died peacefully Sunday at La Vida Llena Lifeplan Retirement Community in Albuquerque at the age of 89.

Born Teresita Consuelo Salazar on April 22, 1929, at San Juan Pueblo to Francisquita Atencio Salazar and Jose Ramon Salazar, she graduated from Española High School in 1946.

Daughter Chrissy Akes of Albuquerque said Thursday she has fond memories of a mother with a great sense of humor, a love of Scrabble and bingo, and an insatiable penchant for pottery making.

When Akes took her mother, age 80, to live at La Vida Llena, “she said, ‘Oh, this is for old people,’ ” Akes recalled. “This was just the funniest thing. When you would ask her how old she was, she would say 49. She never budged past 49.”

Thompson made so much pottery — about 100 pieces — that a table will be set up at Friday’s service for guests to choose one, Akes said.

Thompson was an Española city councilor from 1979-82, mayor from 1982-86 and a city councilor from 1992-2000. She was president of the New Mexico Municipal League and a board member of the National League of Cities.

She also worked in Washington, D.C., for various elected officials, including U.S. Sen. Joseph Montoya, D-N.M.

She met her husband, James C. Thompson, in Washington while he was working for the National Security Agency and attending law school at Georgetown University. Connie Thompson returned to New Mexico in 1965 when her husband opened his law practice, and she served as his legal secretary. They had been married 34 years when he preceded her in death in 1990. She was later married to David Ortega, from 1995 to 2002.

In the early ’90s, Thompson worked as an administrative aide to House Majority Leader Michael Olguin in the New Mexico Legislature. She was executive director of the Española Chamber of Commerce in 1991 and again in 2000-01.

An obituary published by the Rivera-Hanlon Funeral Home in Española says Thompson had a love of travel that started in 1953 when, at age 23, she departed on a three-month tour of Europe. Her travels eventually included visits to the Soviet Union, Finland, China, Egypt, Italy, England, Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Panama and Chile.

Thompson chaired the New Mexico Arts Commission and the Corrections Committee of the New Mexico Criminal Justice Resource Center. She also served on the board of the Western States Art Foundation and the North Central Economic Development District.

Thompson was president of Amantes de Flores Garden Club and a member of the Santa Fe Opera Guild, Española Hospital Auxiliary, Girl Scouts of America Sangre de Cristo Council, Las Amigas de Nuevo Mejico — Ambassadors of Good Will to Promote New Mexico, Oñate Fiesta Council and Santa Cruz United Methodist Church.

Among other recognitions, she was named Española Woman of the Year in 1975 and received the Ida Edith Award in 2004 for outstanding service and dedication to the Española Valley.

In addition to Akes and husband Vernon, Thompson is survived by daughter Frances Thompson-Gee and husband Robert of New York; daughter Dianne Sonive and husband Sam of Arizona; and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Other survivors include her brother David Salazar and wife Sylvia; brother Arthur G. Salazar; sister Mary Agnes and husband Andres Gallegos; and numerous nieces, nephews and other relatives.

The funeral service is scheduled for 8 a.m. at Santa Cruz United Methodist Church, 405 S. McCurdy Road, Española. Burial will follow at 10:30 a.m. at the Santa Fe National Cemetery.

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