A look back at some of the notable people who died in 2015 (January 2, 2016)

Several prominent Native American artists, a handful of writers and many who changed Santa Fe for the better are among the notable people from Northern New Mexico who died in 2015.

The list includes Jeri Ah-be-hill, founder of the popular Native American Clothing Contest held annually during Indian Market; Jack Aeby, who photographed the explosion of the first atomic bomb at the Trinity Site; Denise McCluggage, who helped break down gender barriers in auto racing; civil rights activist Bob Moses; the controversial land grand activist Reies Lopez Tijerina, who became a legend for his role in the raid on the courthouse in Tierra Amarilla; businessman Abe Silver and Bernabé Romero, who designed some prominent projects in Northern New Mexico.

Here we celebrate the lives of many who made an impact on our community and died in the last year:


Ford Ruthling, 82


Nov. 30

Santa Fe artist and folk art collector Ford Ruthling worked in watercolor, tin, wood, clay, iron and paper, in addition to oil and canvas and often was inspired by the natural world. His oil paintings of Pueblo Indian pottery were featured on a series of postage stamps issued in 1977.

His home in the South Capitol neighborhood was filled with Mexican antiques, Catholic reliquaries, photographs, pottery and ceramics. The house, which he sometimes opened to visitors for fundraising benefits, is surrounded by a large garden with a profusion of flowers and secluded walkways. He also kept the home filled with animals, including dogs, cats and, at one time, a crow named José Cuervo, who ate out of Ruthling’s mouth.

“He was a wonderful, flamboyant, friendly, talented guy who filled a room,” said gallery owner Nat Owings, who had known Ruthling for most of his life.

While in military service, he made paintings and drawings of flora and fauna, and sent them to his sister Theo Raven, who found them good enough to sell through her shop. That was the beginning of his long and successful artistic career, she said.

In 1993, he was named a Santa Fe Living Treasure, and he was honored with the Governor’s Award for Painting, Sculpture and Printmaking in 2005.


Source: Anne Constable, The Santa Fe New Mexican

Ruthling-related files and materials

Jacob Blickensderfer

Fuelling/Fülling family coat of arms