Belen

Belen construction company owner liz gabaldon — who always spelled her name without capitalization — died Thursday morning after a battle with cancer.

“Since her diagnosis with cancer about a year and a half ago, she tried to spend as much time with family as possible,” said her son, Sean Gabaldon. “Family was the No. 1 priority on her list — and friends. She was a compassionate person. She had a big heart for friends.”

Gabaldon, who was 54, was a Belen native who worked alongside her husband, George, at the family construction business.

“He did all the construction work, and she worked with the customers and did the paperwork,” her son said. “They worked mostly with first-time home buyers in Valencia and Socorro counties and in T or C.”

“They really enjoyed getting people their first start in life. Everyone remembers their first home. I think that was the clientele they enjoyed working with. After George passed away in 1991, she took the reins of the construction company and did a development in Socorro” with other parnters.

He said she developed land and did commercial and residential construction. “She enjoyed the people part, the subcontractors and the clientele.”

Gabaldon also enjoyed traveling, entertaining and spending time with her family, especially the couple’s grandchildren.

“She always taught us responsibility — you should know what’s right. Her and George were like that,” Sean said.

With her son and Eugene and Gloria Gabaldon, her brother-in-law and his wife, she built the gazebo in the cemetery at Our Lady of Belen Catholic Church in honor of her husband, George, who also died of cancer. She will be buried next to him in that cemetery.

Gabaldon’s mother, Priscilla Salazar, said her daughter attended St. Mary’s School and Belen High School, where she graduated third in her class. “She was in the honor society; she was the studious kind,” Salazar said.

She graduated from the University of New Mexico with a bachelor’s degree in business education and did her practice teaching in Los Lunas. But it was about then that she met and married her husband and went to work in the construction company, helping him.

“She ran the business after he died until about a year and a half ago. She had to close it completely when she began to get ill in the fall of 2000.”

Her mother said she will be remembered for “a real hearty, from-the-gut laugh. She got it from her father.” Her father, Henry Salazar, was both the Belen City and Valencia County manager.

Gloria Perea was a long-time friend. “She was very kind-hearted. She and I could just talk and talk and talk forever. She was giving of herself and to the community, whether it was for any organization or political thing. I never knew her to say no to helping anybody. I ran the golf tournaments for the chambers — whether it was monetary or to buy hole sponsors, she was there.”

Perea observed that her friend was “a very professional woman; she dressed very professionally in a business-type suit.”

Friend Marybelle Tabet said they’d known one another since they’d double-dated with their future husbands. They remained friends for more than 25 years.

Tabet said she, too, had been sick and “we shared this, and that created a bond between us.”

Sean Gabaldon said his mother was his best friend and he will miss her.

A funeral Mass has been scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday, May, 6, at Our Lady of Belen Catholic Church.

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Sandy Battin