Sandoval Signpost


An independent monthly newspaper serving the community since 1988
  Real People

Jim Fish

An animated Larry Goodell reads "Husbandman," a poem he wrote for Jim Fish about 18 months ago titling it with a medieval term for farmer.

Placitas mourns loss of sage poet and winemaker

~Bill Diven

That the arc of Jim Fish's rich life would end in a wild reach of Sandoval County seemed proper among the 150, or so, friends and family who gathered to mourn his passing with wine, tears, and poetry.

"If anyone lived their life to the fullest, it was Jim," his brother Steve Fish told the Signpost after the June 18 memorial event at Anasazi Fields Winery in Placitas. "Whatever he did always turned out positive."

Fish—environmental scientist and activist, poet, woodcarver, skier, and the leading spirit behind the winery—collapsed on June 5 while hiking on Ignacio Chavez Mesa with nephew Scott Fish and one of Scott's friends. Death came instantly in a beloved wilderness study area in far western Sandoval County three days after his 68th birthday.

He is survived by his partner, Cathy Young, his three brothers, eight nieces and nephews, and an extensive network of friends and colleagues.

"That was a special place to him," Peter Colton, a partner in the winery, said. "It was his favorite dry-camping place, he would say. He's been going out there since the early Eighties."

That wasn't too long after Fish, a West Texas ranch kid, arrived in New Mexico with a Princeton Ph.D. in chemical engineering to work in nuclear safety at Sandia National Labs. When he settled in Placitas village, he noticed the bountiful fruit orchards bearing cherries, plums, and apricots.

"He just had this idea you could make some really good wine with that," Gerard Rollins, vice president of the winery said. "Not some sweet Kool-Aid with alcohol but really fine wine. Fine dry wines."

The winery closed after Fish's death but reopened with the annual Summer Solstice Barbecue on June 24. A poetry reading in his remembrance is scheduled for July 30 at 3:00 p.m.

For now, the winery moves forward, open on weekends and for private events, with an ample supply of wines, although a late frost wiped out this year's fruit crop. The long-term outlook is uncertain.

"That's the way it is with any business when a major force passes away," Rollins continued. "I would characterize Jim as a vital character in the best sense of the word character… He was a talented winemaker, making an unusual product."

Anasazi Fields Inc. formed in 1993 with Fish as president, and the property on the west side of the village grew beyond winemaking into a community venue. The site hosted weddings, public meetings, wine club dinners, and, for 12 years, the Duende Poetry Series with Fish among its five organizers.

"It was a miracle to me as a poet to meet someone as a business person who happened to be a poet, or otherwise this wouldn't have happened," said Larry Goodell, another of the series founders. "It was a totally generous affair as well as a business."

Goodell's Duende Publishing produced Fish's last book, Dancing the Snow, a meditation on skiing with poems, photos, and essays centered on the Taos Ski Valley.

Much of Fish's poetry and his previous books drew from observing the breadth and detail of the landscape surrounding him. Others spoke of ranch and cowboy life. Someone once called his poems verbal photographs.

"Who will be there to notice in the same way you do?" read Cirrelda Snider-Bryan, another of the Duende Series founders, during the June 18 gathering.

His love for nature could even be found in his science writings for Sandia Labs, although its unlikely couplets or quatrains appeared in his 1992 conference presentation "Cradle-to-Grave, Tracking of Hazardous and Radioactive Materials for Pollution Prevention." It also infused his activism in founding the Public Lands Action Network in the 1990s and his extensive fieldwork, riding herd on federal land-management plans.

More recently, he supported KUPR, Placitas community radio, sponsoring a weekly poetry spot and hosting its annual Share the Love event.

The celebration of his life filled the winery with people swapping stories while sipping wine and listening to poets, musicians, and readings of Fish's works.

"Jim was a big fish in this big pond of life," singer-songwriter Rog Bates sang backed by Pam Colton. "He'd carve out a sculpture or a stick for a hike, just like he carved out his amazing life… He followed his passions wherever they ran. You know, Jim was a renaissance man."

Goodell followed with Fish's poem "A Piece of Earth" from his 2009 book "A Sense of Playing" reading in part:

As you rush to fill your cups until they overflow

As you build your fortunes

On the fundamental financial assumption

That we have to have more and more

And then some more

As you cut down the trees

And dismiss the loss of species

As proof of Survival of the Fittest

As you roar down the road

                in your trophy machines


Would you please

Would you please

Would you please leave a piece of earth

Beyond the open side of the room, seed-bearing fibers from a ring of cottonwood trees rode the breeze like so many puffed-up snowflakes sparkling in the sunlight.

Mary duLin
Mary duLin, 1923–2017

Mary duLin passed away peacefully at home Friday, June 16, 2017. Mary had a full and adventurous life. Born in London, England, in 1923, she served in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force in England during World War II. She lived a short time in Oklahoma before signing on as a “Harvey Girl” and working at La Fonda in Santa Fe, The Alvarado, and the Airport in Albuquerque. She loved New Mexico’s climate and culture, including 50 years of living in Placitas. She was  a founding member of Jardiñeros de Placitas, a longtime member of the Daughters of the British Empire, and active in The Albuquerque Assistance League. Mary loved to be involved in community activities, and also gardening, traveling, and being social with friends and family. She is survived by three daughters Laura, Barbara and Loyce, four grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren. A private family service is planned. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to:—the local wild-horse organization in which Mary was involved.

Celebration of Life for Anna Goodridge

A celebration of life will be held for Anna Goodridge on July 22 at 5:30 p.m. at the Placitas Community Library. A reception will follow.

Anna passed away on April 22 of this year.She was a teacher in Albuquerque for many years. She loved teaching children and especially enjoyed teaching art. She was a member of the Placitas Creative Spirits Art Group and displayed her art in local galleries.

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