On Labor Day in 1969 Juan “Rob” Baldonado was born. He entered the world early and spent 16 days being treated for hyaline membrane disease, as it was called then. After his lungs matured and opened and a strange sound in his heart resolved, he needed to stay in the hospital nursery long enough to meet the discharge weight of 5 pounds. He came home to our apartment at 939 Iris Street Apt 16. An uncanny coincidence as this is now the Los Alamos County building where his burial site was purchased after his unexpected death, at home, December 9, 2022.
This is the beginning and the end, in between were 53 years of life. Some easy, some not so easy, but always interesting.
He was inventive, artistic, and daring. He was loyal to his friends and family, he could be charming and whatever the opposite of charming is, he could be that as well. He was hard working and quickly became skilled at whatever new undertaking he thought would be “cool” to try. These undertakings included palm tree pruning, home and commercial construction, concrete work, blacksmithing, farrier work, bartending, bouncing, prep cook and chef. He peeled lodgepoles, skinned animals, made helmets and armor. He helped ranch and worked in a gun shop. He trained dogs in obedience, birding, hunting, security, bomb sniffing and trials. He also worked as an oil well laborer, in heavy machinery maintenance, and who knows what he didn’t tell us. He worked in Las Vegas Nevada, Whitefish Montana, Hungry Horse Montana, Kalispell Montana, Ardmore Oklahoma, Los Alamos, Espanola, Pojoaque, Rodeo New Mexico. Celina Texas, Blue Ridge Texas, Bedias Texas, Navasota Texas, Tioga North Dakota, Fargo North Dakota, Denver Colorado.
Among non-work undertakings he enjoyed heavy armor fighting in the SCA. He loved firearms and their history, he read books about WW1 and WW11 and talked about the soldiers as though he knew them personally. He shared his grandfather’s stories of Bataan with”the old guys at the V”. He requested a visit by the LDS missionaries and as they helped with dogs and kennels they taught him lessons and were with him at his baptism in Navasota,Texas.
He worked in the hottest and coldest places and loved and complained about them all. He had numerous serious health issues but had the benefit of extremely caring and competent doctors when he would return home to heal. His family would like to thank Dr. Tyler Taylor, Dr. Glendon Cook, Dr. Glenda King, Dr. Gladden, and their staff as well as Doug Wacker and Chris Garcia of Hanger Clinic for the excellent care they provided.
We also wish to thank all the amputees who communicated through Instagram for their compassion, jokes and helpful hints. Sister Phoenix as he called One Footed Phoenix was always uplifting and often quoted.
These are the places he was and the things he worked at, but it’s the stories good and bad, serious and hysterically funny that really tell who he was and those of us who love him tell them often. He was a big man and has left a big hole in our hearts.
Rob is survived by his parents Juan and Kathleen Baldonado, daughters Sidney and Chelsea, his brother Eric and wife Dez, nephews Damon and Sagar and niece Asche and husband David. His large family includes Aunts, Uncles and cousins and innumerable friends from New Mexico to Montana, Texas to North Dakota.
Our heartfelt thank you to Amber of Rivera Funerals and cremations for her compassionate guidance during this time.
A Celebration of Rob’s life will be held April 22, from 12 noon to 2:30 at the Blue Window Bistro. Burial at 3:00 will be at Guaje Pines Cemetery,