Rubel U. Jaramillo 10/31/1930 to 01/31/2008 was one of the great heroes in our western heritage . He was born and died in the same house in Las Mesitas Colorado. He did not own shoes until he was 10. His family sold fruit and vegetables by horse drawn wagon from Madera, New Mexico to Antonito Colorado. They tended the flocks of sheep on the Jaramillo Vista by Ozir, Colorado. The summer when he was 10, his dad, brother and Rubel were tending the 1,000 sheep, cattle and horses on the family Varra. One of the bulls gored his brother and his dad managed to put his brother on the Cumbres and Toltec narrow gage train that crossed the family land and took him to Alamosa for treatment. Rubel at age 10 watched over the animals for 16 days there in the wild west until his father returned.
His family life was not good and he tried to get enlisted in the Army at age 14 but finally got in after WWII. He was assigned to duty in Korea and worked with the CIA. He was the first one who saw the huge Chinese advance into S. Korea and came down running from the mountains to tell his superiors of the impending assault. His assignment was to penetrate enemy lines with a 50 caliber rifle and take out North Korean Generals.
He served 3 tours in Viet Nam and his last tour was the worst. He was a med avac pilot with a chopper and when Kae Son happened during the Tet offensive his chopper was hit. He got the men out and retreated with the troops for the fight. He lowered and emptied the anti aircraft guns into the waves of attackers and they ran out of Amo He emptied his M 16 next He pulled his 45 and emptied it too. The attack then was hand to hand and he pulled his knife then he was shot from his left shoulder to his stomach with 9 AK 47 rounds. Another soldier also was shot and died on top of Rubel. He was pulled out alive the next morning. Rubel was one of the most decorated veterans in Southern Colorado.
After his war days he came back Loco like so many of our soldiers. He finally found his calling making Spanish Colonial Folk Art in the tradition of his ancestors. He continued to live on the Family home in Las Mesitas Colorado . This humble man lived by only the fruits of his efforts. A good day fishing in the Conejos River meant food for the next few days. He made the tools he carved with. He made his life with just his hands. He won the Folk Art award from the State of Colorado in 1991. One of his death carts is in the Smithsonian Museum. He became a man of peace and opposed the Viet Nam war and this war in Iraq.
After another hard time in 2000 Catherine Robles Shaw and family kinda adopted this wonderful old man. Rubel was a second cousin to Catherine. His health was failing for the last few years and he was not able to produce much art work. His home seemed to always need something fixed and we helped fix up the old adobe and made sure he had supplies on our many trips to Santa Fe. We knew his time was running out and last December He asked Michael Shaw to make him his personal Pine Coffin to be buried behind the burnt hull of the San Ysidro church there in Las Mesitas. His Father and Grandfather also were the towns coffin makers in times past. The Shaw family did as he requested.... It is amazing how the old ways help in times of grief. We had 7 family members contribute and the work helped us all. We knew it was just what he wanted. Cathy and Rubel worked so close together. He was huge in our lives....Most people adopt kids.... It was good to adopt this old man as he was so full of life's experiences. May he rest in peace.
Tonight a sad update, Carlitos Guadalupe Jaramillo was killed in an automible crash near his home. Christmas Night..... He was just found 12/28/2009
He was 22, an aspiring Folk Artist and working carpenter.
More to follow