Cover photo for Theodore Robert Barela's Obituary
1952 Theodore 2023

Theodore Robert Barela

November 2, 1952 — June 21, 2023

Theodore R. Barela was born in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Sunday November 2, 1952. He was the fourth of five children born to Theodore Roosevelt Barela and Margarita Naranjo Barela. Their first born, Candido and also the second born, Adrian did not survive childhood. lreyne is his older sister and Walter is the youngest.

A defining characteristic of Theo's was passion. He was passionate about causes, about work, about music, sports, people, and animals. Mostly he was passionate about family. He was especially devoted to his mother, Margaret. Once back in Albuquerque, he made it point to take her to dinner every Friday night and spend as much time as possible with her. Even took her on trips to Paris, New York, Atlanta , etc. He loved spoiling his family.
For Theo it was family first, last and always. And family was not just about blood, it was about heart. If he loved you, you absolutely knew it because there was no judgment, no conditions, just acceptance and a feeling that you mattered.

Theo was a born hospitality leader. He started his career in hotels as a bellman at the Holiday Inn Midtown here in Albuquerque at the age of 17. He didn't stay a bellman long, quickly rising through the ranks learning all he could about the ins and outs of hotels. After leaving UNM, he moved to Los Angeles thinking it might be fun to be an actor, or hang out with actors. He worked briefly at Universal Studios but worked primarily at the Beverly Hilton. He loved the work and the work loved him. He moved from front office management to Executive Management. In just a few years' time, he was managing some of Los Angeles' largest Hilton hotels. The LA Hilton had 384 rooms and The LAX Hilton 1,234 rooms. But even then his love of sports was present as he served on the planning committee for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

He loved LA but missed home and when there was an opportunity to manage the Santa Fe Hilton, he came back to New Mexico. Good thing he did, love was waiting for him here. When he met Joseph Will, Joseph was a single dad to a 3 year old, Anthony. The three of them became a family fairly quickly. To find a loving partner and raise a child was his dream come true.

Together they would later move to Connecticut where Theo managed a large executive resort. However, a movie called the Milagros Bean field War struck a sentimental chord and called them back to New Mexico and family. Theo had a few more hotels to manage, including the Grove Hotel and Arena in Boise, Idaho before finally making the decision to move back to New Mexico for good and develop their own enterprise. Theo, Joseph and Walter became Peak Hospitality, a hotel Management company. He served as President and CEO.

Peak Hospitality gave him even more additions to family as owners and managers were never just business associates. He got to know them and their families. He was proud of his team.

Peak was slowly growing and so was the family. Son Anthony met the love of his life, Kimberly, and the two of them gave Theo and Joseph a grandson, Oliver, the absolute apple of his eye.

Theo also had 2 nieces and 2 nephews. lreyne's children, Stephanie and Wade Duncan. Walter and Karen's children, Skyler and Haley Barela.

Theo loved Music. He sang and played the piano. He sang with the NM Gay Men's chorus for 4 years until Peak didn't allow time for all the rehearsals and performances. But he would still sing "New York, New York" and "The sun is shining, the grass is green The orange and palm trees sway I've never seen such a day In Beverly Hills, L.A. .. " at the drop of a hat. He had a wonderful voice, soft, mellow yet authoritative. Even babies loved his voice.

Theo loved sports, he played football and basketball in high school at Menaul, and his freshmen year at UNM before having his foot broken in practice by UNM's first 7 footer. When he couldn't play basketball anymore, next best thing-watch the LOBOS play!! His beloved Lobos. He had season tickets and nothing made him happier than having his invitation to join him at The Pit, accepted.

It was his love of sports that led him to the NM Sports Hall of Fame. This was his newest passion. He loved interacting with and being a part of NM Sports history. His dearest goal was/is to see a bricks and mortar Museum for the NM Sports Hall of Fame. To this end we ask that in lieu of flowers donations be made to the NM Sports Hall of Fame Museum.

Theo's family included not just people but his dogs, Edison and now Ava. He spoils her rotten, too.

Theo was an active member of the hospitality community serving as President of the Innkeepers Association, on the Board of Directors for the ACVB, NMLA, GALA and President of the NM Sports Hall of Fame.

His love was so extraordinarily focused on each person and facet of his life that each activity, person and pet had so much value they were truly a part of him. He didn't just live life, he expanded life. He caught you up in his enthusiasm and made you feel better about yourself.

Theo Barela was preceded in death, by his father, T. R. Barela; his mother, Margaret; his step father, Jose Gonzales; and nephew, Skyler Barela.

He is survived by his husband of 38 years, Joseph Will; son, Anthony Will; daughter in law, Kimberly; grandson, Oliver; sister lreyne Barela; nephew Wade Duncan; niece, Stephanie, her husband, Will Collosky; great niece Madeleine Duncan-Collosky; brother Walter Barela; sister in law, Karen Barela; niece Haley and husband Alec Kennerly. Also, uncle Larry Naranjo; aunt Angie Milatzo and numerous cousins: Naranjos, Espinozas, Mllatzos, Durans, Catanachs, Anastasios, Mortimers, Torres, Garrards, Abbotts and Gils.

His services will be held as follows:
There will be a family visitation and Viewing on Friday, June 30, 2023, from 5:00 p.m. -7:00 p.m. at FRENCH-Wyoming.
Theo's Celebration of Life will be on Saturday, July 1, 2023, from 2:00 p.m. -4:00 p.m. in the Lounge at the PIT, 1111 University Blvd SE.

To send flowers to the family in memory of Theodore Robert Barela, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Friday, June 30, 2023

5:00 - 7:00 pm (Mountain time)

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Celebration of Life

Saturday, July 1, 2023

Starts at 2:00 pm (Mountain time)

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