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DeHerrera a ‘public servant’

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By David Giuliani

MORA — He was remembered as “a man for all seasons” and someone who has performed many tasks in life, including 26 years of military service to his country.

More than that, he was remembered as a “public servant” in his lifelong home of Mora Valley, where he remained active in community affairs, primarily through the schools, sports and, for 37 years, as a correspondent for the Las Vegas Optic.

J. Richard “Ricky” DeHerrera, 65, died Friday morning in Albuquerque. He was honored Tuesday in a memorial service at the Mora school gymnasium. About 300 people attended.

DeHer-rera’s cousin, Cyrus Martinez, gave the eulogy, saying, “Ricky grew up as a child of the Valley.” Born prematurely in 1943, “he was laid in a shoebox and had to start out fighting.”

DeHerrera retired from the New Mexico Air National Guard after 26 years, including active duty during the Vietnam War. While overseas in Japan, he met and married his wife Kosuzu, and together they returned to the United States, settled in Mora County and had two sons.

Former Gov. David Cargo, one of the speakers at the memorial service, considered DeHerrera a close friend. He said he talked with DeHerrera “two or three times a week” and gained valuable insight into Mora County as a result.

“He could tell you a lot of things. He could tell you where the fish were biting. He could tell you which teams were winning. And he could tell you how the people were going to vote,” Cargo said.

“He truly was the epitome of a public servant,” said Mora County native and state Rep. Thomas Garcia, who knew DeHerrera as a teacher, bus driver, coach, referee and reporter.

Col. Andrew Salas of the Air National Guard also spoke at the service, saying DeHerrera was a dedicated member of National Guard. “As a result, he inspired his sons to do the same thing” and serve in the military, Salas said.

The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Disabled American Veterans all joined in to close the service with a military honors ceremony and flag presentation to DeHerrera’s family.