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Woman celebrates 100th birthday

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By Don Pace

Lucille Frances Katherine Duran celebrated her 100th birthday Sunday with many family and friends.

After services at Our Lady of Sorrows Church, Duran was presented a bouquet of flowers as the Rev. John Brasher and the congregation sang “Happy Birthday” and “Las Mañanitas.”

Georgina Ortega, former president of Citizens Committee for Historic Preservation and current board member for Casa del Cultura, opened the committee’s center so out-of-town family members could view the Romero and Las Vegas exhibit. Max Trujillo of the Trujillo Agency treated the family to a tour of the Secundino Romero home on Hot Springs Boulevard.

During the birthday celebration at the Plaza Hotel Ballroom, local attorney and historian Jesus Lopez gave a presentation before a large crowd.

Duran is the oldest surviving member of the Romero family which was involved in early trading in Las Vegas in the 1830s.

Her great-grandfather, Jose Manuel Romero, was a successful merchant along the Santa Fe Trail, who had five sons, all of whom were involved in business and politics. He also raised five daughters.

Duran’s father, Cleofes Romero Sr., was the sheriff of San Miguel County from 1900 until his appointment as warden of the state penitentiary in 1910. Lucille was born on the prison grounds in the warden’s mansion.

Duran’s uncle, Secundino Romero, also served as San Miguel County sheriff and later was elected to the state House of Representatives. He was elected as the first speaker of the House in 1915.

Duran is the youngest of five children born to Cleofes Romero Sr. and Arabella Bernard Romero. Her siblings, all deceased, include Marie Rapkoch, Joe E. Romero, Cleofes Romero Jr., and Emma Jean Romero.

When Duran was 19, her twin daughters passed away shortly after birth, followed by her husband a short time later. She remarried and had four children, Carmen, twins Emma and Joanna, and son Dwight, who died in 2008. She has 15 grandchildren, 21 great grandchildren, and nine great-great grandchildren.

Duran was a rural school teacher and worked at Highlands University, where she retired.