Joseph Barela, a retired social worker, died peacefully early Thursday morning at his home in Albuquerque. He was born on November of 1926 in the then-thriving town of San Marcial on the banks of the Rio Grande in Socorro County. Joe might have led the idyllic life of a small-town boy but for two catastrophic floods one summer that sent women and children fleeing to the hills as adobe homes, and businesses melted in the rushing waters, and silt buried to the roof top anything left standing. The Santa Fe Railroad gave up on the town and moved operations to Albuquerque and Joe's family went with it. So it was that Joe grew up in the city on South Broadway in a home that still stands.
He always liked to drive by and take a look at the old homestead. It's near the rail yards where he would climb under the fence to visit his dad working in the train machine shops and supply depots. It was also close enough to downtown Albuquerque, which was a lively and exciting place of adventure for young Joe. The excitement of the city with its buildings and museums inspired his life-long interest in photography, cities, world travel, architecture, movies and history. As the WWII troop trains rolled through town, Joe enlisted in the Army and served in the Asiatic Pacific Campaign at Okinawa in the 136th AntiAircraft Artillery Battalion. After the war he attended the University of New Mexico and soon found another way to serve others through what was then known as the State Welfare Department. As a social worker in Belen and Albuquerque, Joe worked to find provision for the poorest of the poor. At the time he began his career there was no help for the disabled, no programs for affordable health care for the indigent and aged and no supplementary food help for the hungry. Social workers were like relief workers and Joe did all in his power to find and bring aid and assistance for his clients. In the decades that followed, as the nation responded with better programs for the needy, Joe responded by tackling the new bureaucracies and moving into supervisory roles in the department to get the new forms of aid out to the clients.
Joe's compassion and energy overflowed into his life as a husband, parent and grandparent. His family was everything to him and time spent in outings and get-togethers remained his greatest joy until the end of his days. It's this love of family and zest for life that kept him for years interested and involved, optimistic and cheerful to the age of 92 despite severe physical challenges after a devastating stroke. Joseph is survived by his brother, Albert of San Jose, California; loving sisters-in-laws, Angie Vallejos, Nora Rivera, Corinne Willison (Ray) and Christina Peralta; children, Regina Cappello, John Francis, Lawrence, and JoAnna Hammon (Eric); his grandchildren, Daniel, Jordan (Veronica), Kyle, Samantha (Tyler), and Ashley (Ben); and his great-grandchildren, Alexya, Damian, Brayden, Jasmine, Jackson, Koby and Ethan; and numerous nieces, and nephews who cherished him. He was preceded in death by his wife, Sadie Peralta Barela; father, Vicente Barela; mother, Tomasita Garcia Barela; and sister, Mary Mares (Bill).
A Visitation will be held on Tuesday, March 19, 2019, 9:00 a.m. with a Rosary to follow at 10:00 a.m. and a Funeral Service to follow at 10:30 a.m. at FRENCH – Westside. Interment will follow at Mt. Calvary at 1900 Edith Blvd. NE.