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Obituaries for Oct. 17, 2019

Ella Mae Nakai


Ella Mae Nakai

ALBUQUERQUE — Ella Mae Nakai, 102, peacefully passed away Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019, from natural causes in Albuquerque.

She was born Jan. 28, 1917, in Cornfields, Arizona, to William and Geneva Crawford.

Ella is survived by two of her siblings, five children, 10 grandchildren, 26 great-grandchildren, and five great-great-grandchildren. Ella is preceded in death by Raymond Nakai, former chairman of the Navajo Nation.

There will be a small, private family memorial service at a future date.

Paul A. Baca


Paul Baca

PERALTA, N.M. — A rosary for professional stock contractor and local cowboy legend Paul A. “Casper” Baca will be held Saturday, Oct. 19, at 10 a.m. at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church of Peralta in Peralta, New Mexico.

A memorial service will take place Sunday, Oct. 20, at 1 p.m. at the Valencia County Sheriff Posse Arena, followed by a reception at the Sheriff Posse Café. Casper was born Dec. 12, 1956, in Grants, New Mexico, to Pete and Loyola Baca. He unexpectedly passed away at his home on the morning of Oct. 5, 2019, in Peralta.

From a very humble beginning, like many other cowboys who follow the rodeo trail, Casper grew up competing in rodeos, riding bulls and team roping. He was one of eight bull riders from the United States invited to compete at Rodeo Royal in Calgary, Canada. Casper was also the first-ever stock contractor to compete at the NMRA Finals in bull riding and team roping.

While he was riding bulls and team roping he was also helping his father manage his rodeo business, the Baca Brothers’ Rodeo Company, from 1975 to 1986. Baca Bros rodeo was vital in the creation of the New Mexico Rodeo Association. Baca Bros was the first stock contracting company and Casper became the first bull-riding director of the new association, accomplishments that are for the most part unknown, but cherished by Casper.

In 1986, Casper felt it was time to start his own business. Since its humble beginnings, the Casper Baca Rodeo Company has grown to be one of the finest world-class rodeo companies “from the sands of San Fidel to the lights of Las Vegas.”

Casper lived a life filled with hard work, dedication, family, artistry, chivalry, and virtue and left an impact on those around him for eternity. Heaven is truly the Home of the Champions now.

Casper is survived by his children, Christy Aragon (husband Andrew), CJ Baca, and Charm Edwards (husband Tanner); their mother, Cheryl; sister, Sarah Cordova (husband Julian); brothers, Joey Baca (wife Barbara) and Larry Baca (wife Angela); and eight grandchildren, two nieces, three nephews, and numerous great-nieces and nephews. Casper is preceded in death by his parents, Pete and Loyola Baca; and nephew, Dustin Baca.

Arrangements are being handled by the caring professionals at the Noblin Funeral Service Los Lunas Chapel. An online guest register is available at

Eddie Van Winkle Sr.

FORT DEFIANCE — Funeral services for Eddie Van Winkle Sr., 78, of Sawmill, Arizona, were held Oct. 16 at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Fort Defiance, with Father Blane Grein officiating. Interment followed in Fort Defiance.

Eddie was born Oct. 20, 1940, in Sawmill, into the Tábaahá (Water’s Edge Clan), born for Tódích’íi’nii (Bitter Water Clan). He passed away Oct. 12, 2019, in Fort Defiance.

Eddie retired from Navajo Forest Products Industry and continued employment with the Window Rock School District and St. Michaels Indian School until his full retirement. Eddie enjoyed attending rodeos, Navajo song and dances, and spending time with his grandchildren.

Eddie is survived by his daughters, Marilyn Van Winkle, Marlene Van Winkle, Elvira Brown, and Carrie Tso; and sisters, Elouise Yazzie, Elsie Carnes, Carol Van Winkle, Susie Van Winkle, Eloine Van Winkle, Mabel Van Winkle, Irene Van Winkle, and Sarah Van Winkle; and 16 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren. Eddie is preceded in death by his wife, Martha R. Van Winkle; sons, Terry Van Winkle, Eddie Van Winkle Jr. and Juan Van Winkle; and brothers, Tom Van Winkle, Thomas Van Winkle and Lee Van Winkle. Pallbearers were Chad Muskett, Dwight Van Tso, Sheldon Van Tso, Michael Van Tso, Chase Van Brown, and Eric R. Van Winkle. Honorary pallbearers were Jimmy Van Winkle, Edward Van Winkle and Roland Begay. Silver Creek Mortuary was in charge of arrangements.

Chester James Yazzie

GALLUP — Funeral services for Chester James Yazzie, 26, were held Oct. 15 at Rollie Mortuary in Gallup. Interment followed at Sunset Memorial. Chester was born Feb. 24, 1993, in Gallup, into the Tódích’íi’nii (Bitter Water Clan), born for Kiyaa’áanii (Towering House Clan). He passed away Oct. 10, 2019, in Flagstaff.

Chester graduated from Gallup High School in 2011 and received certification from the HBI Pre-Apprentice Painting Program at Roswell Job Corps in December 2012. He worked for Gallup William’s Plumbing as a sanitation driver. Chester loved to play PS4 and Xbox. He was a loving uncle, son, brother, and cousin.

Chester is survived by his parents, Violet and Justin Yazzie Sr.; brothers, Nathan Yazzie and Justin Yazzie Jr.; sister, Tiffney Etsitty; nieces, Jolie Felix, Justina Yazzie and Justine Yazzie; nephew, Devin Felix; sister-in-law, Shaniah Martin; and many aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and friends. Pallbearers were Nathan Yazzie, Justin Yazzie Jr., Renesha Murphy, Derrick Joe, Thiesman Billsie, and Triston Billsie.

Rollie Mortuary was in charge of arrangements.

Gladys Descheeny Gorman

GANADO, Ariz. — Funeral services for Gladys Descheeny Gorman, 94, of Nazlini, Arizona, were held Oct. 11 at the Ganado Catholic Church in Ganado, Arizona, with Brother Paul O’Brien officiating. Interment followed at the Nazlini community cemetery.

Gladys was born Dec. 21, 1924, in Nazlini, into the Ma’ii deeshgiizhinii (Coyote Pass Clan), born for Deeshchii’nii (Start of the Red Streak People Clan). She passed away Oct. 5, 2019, in Lakeside, Arizona.

Gladys was a homemaker who enjoyed weaving rugs and herding sheep. Gladys is survived by her grandson, Gerald Brown. Gladys is preceded in death by her husband, Hosteen Yazzie Gorman; daughters, Ethellena Brown and Elsie Yazzie; mother, Guy Bima; and father, Goldtooth Descheeny.

Pallbearers were Stefen Tracey, Lambert Descheeny, Clarence Shorty, and Sam Shorty.

Silver Creek Mortuary was in charge of arrangements.


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