Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

LeDoux shared New Mexican Spanish knowledge | Local News

Those who speak it know: the new Mexican Spanish is as distinctive as the taste of the hatch chillies, like the color of the state’s sunsets. But when English dominated the public school system in the 20th century, the importance of the dialect waned.

To survive, the speakers had to let the words flow. For many in Santa Fe, John Paul LeDoux was the person who helped them.

LeDoux, a longtime Spanish professor at Santa Fe Community College and a resident of Nambé, died on October 19 at the age of 51, less than five years after his diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. It is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Family members who survived include his wife Reina LeDoux and children Matías, 13, and Lourdes, 16.

“It was a relief to know that John was doing his job at Santa Fe Community College. I know there is someone out there who knows what they’re doing, ”said Albuquerque colleague Lillian Gorman, who runs the Spanish for Heritage Program at the University of Arizona.

Gorman nominated LeDoux this year for the 10 Who Made a Difference Awards for his efforts to inspire Nuevomexicanos and Chicanos to improve their Spanish.

He died before The New Mexican could contact him about a story.

Gorman had heard of LeDoux before she met him. She said he was one of the few young professors working to keep the new Mexican Spanish updated through classes in cultural heritage – for speakers who have family ties to a language.

For academics in New Mexico, LeDoux was the ultimate role model, both funny and unpretentious.

“He made the Nordic New Mexican, Hispanic identity and speech very visible and proud of it – while also connecting with other Latino communities in the US and the Mexican population,” said Gorman.

Jonathan Harrell, academic advisor to Santa Fe Community College who taught Spanish classes when LeDoux was running the school’s language division, said LeDoux was a mentor to a mentor.

“He’s looked after so many other people who would become colleagues anywhere in schools,” he said.

LeDoux was born on July 19, 1970 and grew up in Dixon. A longtime friend, flamenco singer Vicente Griego, said LeDoux preferred to call the community by its original Spanish name: El Puerto del Embudo de Nuestro Señor San Antonio.

“He grew up in a native language community. He’s spoken his language since he was very little, ”said Griego. “There is a very small percentage of people who speak the type of Spanish that we speak in northern New Mexico.”

Griego said LeDoux likely helped thousands connect with the Spanish language and regional culture.

Griego fondly remembered that when LeDoux were “bohemians” during their college years in Albuquerque, northern New Mexico, he piqued his interest in flamenco by taking the music of Spanish Roma flamenco singer Camarón de la on a road trip Isla played.

LeDoux, the son of local educators Eugene and Jennie LeDoux, graduated from Pojoaque High School in 1988 and then studied journalism and Spanish at the University of New Mexico.

He envisioned a career as a sports caster and had a long streak with sports teams like the Lobos, Arizona State Sun Devils, and now the Las Vegas Raiders.

Later, while doing his Masters in Spanish at UNM, he met Reina, who was studying engineering. The couple soon became “inseparable,” said Reina.

LeDoux holds a PhD in Spanish from Arizona State University, majoring in Chicano literature. His dissertation examined the way writers in the Rio Arriba county used humor and satirical carria to oppose colonial assimilation.

Reina described LeDoux as a passionate father who loved helping with after-school activities.

When her daughter had dance lessons, he danced next to her.

While he had an extensive academic career behind him, Reina said, LeDoux was most proud of her marriage and family.

He has always promoted her engineering career alongside his, she said.

“We were always together, but never held back,” she says.

In 2019, LeDoux retired from his post at Santa Fe Community College, where he led the language department for a while, due to the progression of his illness.

He spent the last few years of his life promoting ALS. His New Mexico ALS Walk team raised more than $ 7,000 in September.

Several LeDoux colleagues said that days before his death, although he was unable to verbalize himself, he used a voice device to joke and was still serving up Carría joke via text message.

“He just stayed himself in spite of everything that lay ahead,” said Harrell. “That was really inspiring and I think about him every day.”

The family held a funeral mass in the Santa Cruz de la Cañada Catholic Church on Friday.

The Santa Fe Community College Foundation recently announced the John Paul LeDoux Memorial Title V Endowed Scholarship, which will serve Hispanic and low-income students at the school.

“John had this way of making everyone feel important and heard,” said Reina. “That made him so important to everyone.”

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