The Hon. Joe H. Galvan of Las Cruces, 84, peacefully passed away on March 25, 2018 with his family at his side at his daughter’s home in Corrales, NM. Joe is survived by his wife of 64 years, Mary (Tess) Galvan of Las Cruces, his children Michael Galvan (Janet) of Ithaca, NY, Jo Galvan Nash (Don) of Las Cruces, Dr. Lena Ernst (Bob) of Corrales, Jay Galvan Heneghan (Jim) of Santa Fe, Rachel Symalla (Edmund) of Chandler, AZ, his sisters Rebeca Chavira of Las Cruces and Susie Maldonado (Gilbert) of Albuquerque, and his grandchildren Elena Galvan Bates (Dan); Skyler Nash; Tess, Faye, and Meehan Heneghan; Koen and Parker Symalla, and many nieces and nephews. Joe is preceded in death by his parents, Jesús and Maria Galvan, and siblings Felipe, Tony and Elias Galvan, Juanita Romero, Carmen Lucero, and half-brothers-and-sisters Maria de la Luz, Rosa, Amado, Carmen, Andrea, Maria Cruz, Conrado, and Dolores Galvan.
Born Oct. 12, 1933, Joe was raised in Central, NM. He was the youngest son and at the age of 14, his father passed away. As his older siblings had already married, Joe dropped out of high school and entered the military to help care for his family. In 1954, he married Tessie Chavez of Silver City, NM. He attended San Jose (CA) State and Western New Mexico University (WNMU), and was an honors student, an athlete, and a musician. He graduated from WNMU in 1956 and from the University of New Mexico Law School in 1965.
Joe built a successful private law practice in Las Cruces and served two years as a Las Cruces Municipal Judge. In 1976, he was appointed as district court judge in Doña Ana County. He served as Chief Judge and was continuously re-elected until retiring from the state in 1991. Joe was then appointed as a US Magistrate Judge, serving on the federal bench until retiring in 2007. Included among his many accolades and awards are: Outstanding Judge Award from the NM Bar Association; Outstanding Service to the Judiciary from the Supreme Court (twice); Amicus Honors Award for the Dedication to the Advancement of Law from the NM Trial Lawyers Association; Leadership Award from the Association of Trial Lawyers of America; and the 2004 WNMU Distinguished Alumnus Award. Joe was selected for a Professor/Judicial Exchange with UNM and the Universidad de Guanajuato, Mexico.
Joe was highly regarded by colleagues and attorneys throughout the state, many of whom found his courtroom protocols as the best they experienced. He was always described as fair, knowledgeable, respectful, and at times, jovial in the courtroom. Joe was a member of the Holy Cross Catholic Church and enjoyed family gatherings at home or at his ranch in Placita, NM. Playing his guitar, cooking red chile, retelling jokes and stories with family and friends, and reading were among his pleasures.
The Galvan family would like to thank the caring individuals at Retreat at Home and The Retreat Alzheimer’s Specialty Care facility in Rio Rancho, NM where Joe lived the last four years of his life. His caregivers protected his dignity, ensured good medical care, made him laugh, and provided him a daily dose of hands-on love.
Joe will be cremated, with a rosary scheduled on Friday, May 25, 6:00 p.m., and funeral mass on Saturday, May 26, 10:30 a.m., both at Holy Cross Catholic Church, 1327 N. Miranda, Las Cruces, NM 88005. A private, family ceremony will be held immediately following the mass in the Holy Cross Saint Francis Garden Columbarium where Joe will be laid to rest with military honors. In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Joe Galvan can be made to the NM Alzheimer’s Association, 9500 Montgomery NE #121, Albuquerque, NM 87111 (www.alz.org/newmexico).