(Editor’s note: Each month, the News-Bulletin will feature a profile of a senior citizen active in the community.)

Name: Toby Sanchez

Age: 78

Family: Wife, Vera Alice; children, Terry and Karen; grandchildren, Geoffrey, Katie and Toby.

Residence: “I live next door to the (Belen) senior center. This family goes down seven generations here. My grandpa, Elogio Sanchez, and my great-uncle, Lorenzo Sanchez, lived right here. This property for the recreation center and senior center was sold by my aunt, Cleo Sanchez.”

Occupation: Worked as an insurance claims adjuster investigator for Allstate in California, where he raised his family. He returned home to Belen in 1987.

Fondest memory: “My mother and father and my family. We were 12 siblings. We’d go up to the Harvey House and watch the movie stars coming Tom Mix, the cowboy. I must have been 5 or 6.”

Best year: “The early ’30s. Growing up over here where there was no money and everything was bartered for. We’d go out where they were having lambing on the mesa and they’d give us one.”

What do you like most about these days? “The pure joy of being in this country.”

What do you miss most about the old days? “The freedom we had to roam around on horses and in buggies. The sheepherders would come right through town.”

Favorite historical figure: “FDR. I guess that’s when the war started out. I was in the Navy. He died while I was in the service, I was in the Convalescent Hospital in San Bernardino, Calif.”

Favorite local historical figure: “Dennis Chavez, our U.S. Senator. He was related to us, and he did a lot of good. My grandmother and Dennis’s father were brother and sister.”

Best vacation ever: “We toop a trip to Spain, Italy and France. We were on a trip with our class with Belen High School. I would have graduated in 1940, but I graduated in California.”

Best grandchild story: “My grandson, Geoffrey, said ‘Come down, I’ve got a new toy for you to play with.’ I’m thinking he has a pool table.”

Hobby: Playing pool and used to play baseball and bowl.

Organizations: Former member of Knights of Columbus.

Biggest change you’ve seen: “The growth of Belen has been wonderful, and the streets are looking good. I’m sure the city fathers had a great deal to do with it.”

Favorite TV show: “‘JAG.’ It’s Navy.”

Most significant technological advance in your lifetime: “Aircraft. If it wouldn’t have been for them, we wouldn’t be keeping our young men from dying (in the war in Afghanistan) as they did in World War II. The type of war we’re fighting is by air and not nearly as much ground forces.”

Advice to the younger generation: “Stay off of drugs.”

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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.