John Gabaldon has been the fire chief for the village of Los Lunas since January 2015, becoming only the second paid chief in village history.
Gabaldon started working in emergency services as an ambulance and fire truck driver with the Belen Fire Department before becoming a volunteer firefighter with the Los Lunas Fire Department in 1997. He graduated from Los Lunas High School, and completed his EMS course work at the University of New Mexico- Valencia campus. The chief is a state-licensed first responder and intermediate EMT. Gabaldon lives in Los Lunas, with his wife, Jessica, their two sons, Kayden, 21, and John, 16.)
Q What do you think about when you’re alone in your car?
A “When I am alone in the car, I think about what I have to complete at home. I always have a project or idea, and find it is a good time to think it through.”
Q What was the last gift you gave someone?
A “Batteries. My neighbor needed AA (batteries) for her smoke detectors on Thanksgiving. I assisted with the installation so she could continue cooking without interruption.”
Q What were you like in high school?
A “In high school, I think I kept to myself for the most part.”
Q What is the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?
A “Driving to work, I realized that I was wearing tennis shoes. Fortunately, I was near home and it was a quick fix.”
Q What did you want to be when you grew up?
A “Growing up, I just wanted to be a person who those around me could trust.”
Q Who inspires you?
A “I have two family members who inspire me — my oldest son and my uncle, Charles. “Growing up, my son had some heart problems and most people didn’t know because he worked through it. At a young age, he knew hard work and discipline would pay off, not only on the court but also in the class. “My uncle taught me to accept challenges, even those we may not want. His compassion for family and willingness to be there for you is unmatched.”
Q What is your birth order in your family, and do you think it influences who you are?
A “I am the oldest of three and the only boy. Growing up, I was the protector, and I think it helped me become who I am today.”
Q What do you do in your free time?
A “In my free time, I build random things around the house, work on cars and ride my motorcycle.”
Q What’s the most interesting thing about you?
A “I cook dinner for my family, and they know dinner is done when the smoke detectors go off in my house.”
Q If you were an animal, what would you be and why?
A “If I were an animal, I would be a dog. They are loyal, protect when needed, and always find the good in those around them.”
Q You find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
A “If I found a winning lottery ticket, I would donate it all to childhood heart and cancer charities. This question created a lot of mixed feelings and I have decided that finding the winning lottery ticket is not on my bucket list.”
Q Who is your best friend and why?
A “My best friend is my son, John. He has always been by my side. Now that he is older, we spend time working on his car, watching movies and talking.”
Q What’s your favorite song to sing when you’re alone?
A “My favorite song is “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica. Sing? I don’t even want to hear myself sing!”
Q Where is your happy place, and why?
A “Home, because that is where my wife and kids are. My wife has worked hard to make sure we have a comfortable home and I can’t think of a better place to be.”
Q Have you had a lifechanging experience that led you to where you are today?
A “Yes, taking the position of fire chief, I have had the opportunity to work alongside great men and women. The Los Lunas Fire Department has nearly doubled in size, and we have the best staff in the business. “It is an honor to know everyone is doing the best for our community. With all of their assistance, I feel I have grown as a leader and continue to learn every day.”
Q What teacher had the greatest impact on you?
A “The teacher that had the greatest impact on me was my dad. He started teaching me at a young age that you can’t get the job done waiting on someone else when it is your responsibility.”
Q If you could live in any other time, when might that be and why?
A “If I could live in another time, it would be the future. I am interested in technology and would like to see what is next.”
Q If you could have dinner with one famous person from history, who would it be?
A “If I could have dinner with a famous person from history, I would have to choose someone from my family history. It would be my Grandpa Apodaca. “He always talked to his grandsons about becoming good men. I would enjoy hearing his stories and taking the opportunity to pick his brain.”
Q What are you most proud of?
A “I am most proud of my family. Each of them have done great things and continue to make me proud.”
Q How would you like to be remembered?
A “I want to be remembered as a husband and father who did everything he could to give his family the tools necessary to be happy. “I believe that happiness is the key to success.”
The Valencia County News-Bulletin is a locally owned and operated community newspaper, dedicated to serving Valencia County since 1910 through the highest journalistic and professional business standards. The VCNB is published weekly on Thursdays, including holidays both in print and online.