Cover photo for William Sapien's Obituary
1936 William 2023

William Sapien

October 5, 1936 — January 30, 2023

William "Bill" Sapien, 86, a long-time resident of Bernalillo, Sandoval County, New Mexico passed away on Monday, January 30, 2023. Bill endured 3 ½ years of dialysis treatment three times every week with grace, optimism and a strength admired by his family and friends. Bill is survived by his wife of 58 years, Miranda Rivera Sapien; his three sons, Phillip and wife, Bianca and their children, Marco, Catalina and Francisco; Joseph and his fiancée, Melissa Nunez and his daughter, Miranda Lynn and her mother, DeAnza Valencia; and John and his children, Alejandro, Alicia, Marisa and their mother, Veronica Miller.

Bill's family thanks all of his medical providers at the Fresenius Dialysis North facility in Rio Rancho and the many medical providers that provided him excellent care at the Presbyterian Downtown and Rust hospitals during multiple hospital stays in the past few years. Most of all, the family thanks Lucia Garcia, who cared, cleaned, and cooked for Bill and Miranda on an almost daily basis for the past few years. Lucia's compassion and concern for Bill was a true blessing in his final years.

Bill was born in Hillrose, Colorado to Anacleto Sapien and Otilia Camargo, political refugees, who immigrated to the United States from Mexico in 1917 during the Mexican Revolution. Bill's parents became farm workers (stoop laborers) picking produce in many fields in Northeastern Colorado. Bill grew up in a one-room house with a dirt floor and worked in the fields alongside his parents and siblings when he was a pre-teen. Despite Bill's difficult childhood, he attended Hillrose HS for two years and graduated from Sterling HS in Sterling, Colorado, where he played football, basketball, and ran track.

Bill attended Northeastern Junior College (NJC), in Sterling, on academic and basketball scholarships. He also ran track for NJC. Upon graduation, Bill moved to Albuquerque in 1957 to attend UNM, receiving bachelor's and Master's Degrees in the Teaching of Business Subjects. He worked full-time while attending his colleges, while also raising a family.

After graduation from college, Bill worked for The Albuquerque TVI, now CNM, where he was an instructor for two years and the assistant director of the evening division for six years, supervising 120 instructors and 12 supervisors. On January 1, 1976, Bill opened his own small business; a State Farm Insurance Agency in Albuquerque, NM. In 1980, he moved his agency to Bernalillo where he successfully operated his business for a total of 26 years. Bill witnessed many innovations in the insurance industry during his 26-year career.

In 1954, Bill had joined the Colorado National Guard and continued his service with the NM National Guard (NMNG), serving a total of 28 years, including 4 years in the US Army Reserves. During his service, Bill served as an enlisted man for 10 years, graduated from the NM Army NG Military Academy and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant. In 1967, as a platoon leader, Governor, David Cargo, activated the NMNG for a "battalion sized" operation. The Guard was tasked with chasing and capturing, Reyes Lopez Tijerina, a land activist who, with
others, had raided and shot up the Rio Arriba County Courthouse in Tierra Amarilla, NM, pursuing the raiders throughout the mountains of Northern NM.

As a NG officer, he progressed through the ranks, holding different positions, including three years as a commander of Battery D 3rd (AW) Bn., 200 Arty Grp, 111 Arty. Bde., two years as an administrative battery commander and four years as an instructor at the US Army Reserve School, teaching the basic officers' courses. As a battery commander Bill led an outstanding unit, with excellent officers, very competent non-commissioned officers and 136 tremendous, enlisted men. Under his command, Battery D earned several awards, including the Best All-Around Unit in the 3rd Bn., and the Eisenhower Trophy as the most outstanding NG unit in the State.

In 1971, Bill led Battery D, assisting the Albuquerque Police Department to quell the Albuquerque Roosevelt Park Civil Disturbance. This disturbance was instigated by about 300 civil rights and anti-Vietnam War protesters. As a result of his leadership during this event, Bill was one of 12 officers and enlisted men awarded citations and medals of merit for "untiring and unselfish devotion to duty during the 8-day civil disturbance." He ultimately retired from the NMNG at the rank of Major.

Bill was active in NM politics for 47 years in the Democratic Party of Sandoval County (DPSC), holding multiple offices such as precinct delegate, precinct chairman, ward chairman and Chairman of the DPSC. Bill ran three times for Mayor of Bernalillo, NM. In 1998, he was elected to the first of two terms as a Sandoval County Commissioner, representing District 1. As a Commissioner, he was twice elected Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Commission.

Bill's public service philosophy was, "We should leave the communities in which we live, work and play, better than how we found them". He was an old school politico, never engaging in the disagreeable, self-interested and vitriolic political discourse seen often in current politics. Bill always believed in finding common ground among different interests for the benefit of the whole community.

During his eight years as a County Commissioner, Bill championed many projects and programs that benefited and improved the lives of Sandoval County residents, including securing funding for the Placitas Library, an exercise trail in Bernalillo, supported funding for the construction of a new Sandoval County Courthouse and a Vietnam War Memorial in Bernalillo. He supported a better retirement plan for county employees, sought funding to renovate a senior center and awarded $200,000 for the construction of a Bernalillo Public Schools fine arts center. As a Commissioner, Bill also advocated and helped secure funding for the construction of Paseo de Volcan and the Rail Runner through Sandoval County.

Other public service included Bill serving as President of the Sandoval County Jaycees and coaching baseball in the Coronado LL in Bernalillo. In 1978, Bill joined the Catholic Church and remained active in Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church in Bernalillo, serving as a lector and member of the finance council for over 20 years. Bill also enjoyed a life-long love of history, reading several books on the history of Mexico, the Mexican Revolution and the American Civil War. Bill was knowledgeable on important events and specific battles fought in each conflict. His passion for history led him to serve as President of the Sandoval County Historical Society, giving presentations to the Historical Society members on historical events.

Bill's life was a very blessed life, filled with excitement, happiness, love, family and overflowing joy and success. He knew that none of these things were possible without the love and support of the love of his life, Miranda. Together, they enjoyed celebrating their sons' successes, consoling them on their failures and relishing every opportunity to attend academic ceremonies and sporting events to celebrate and support their grandchildren.

A public viewing will take place on Friday, February 17, 2023, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at FRENCH - Wyoming in Albuquerque with a Rosary following at 6:00 p.m. A Funeral Mass will be Celebrated on Saturday, February 18, 2023, 10:00 a.m., at Our Lady of Sorrows (OLOS) Catholic Church, 301 S Camino Del Pueblo, in Bernalillo. Burial will follow at the Bernalillo Cemetery and a reception immediately following to celebrate his life at the OLOS Social Center. Pallbearers will be Dr. Robert Sapien, Patrick Aguilar, Paul Rivera, John Talbott, Chris Aguilar, and Andy Sapien. Honorary pallbearers will be Franklin "Frank" Burke, Paul Aguilar, Robert "Bob" Garcia, Julian Rivera, Donnie Leonard, Marco Sapien, Alejandro Sapien, and Francisco Sapien.

Bill set an exemplary example for his sons, his grandchildren, and his community. His family, friends and community will miss him immensely. In Bill and Miranda's honor, the Miranda and William Sapien Family Community and Education Assistance Foundation has been created with the goal of supporting two values Bill and Miranda promoted during their lives: Community/Public Service and the pursuit of higher education.

In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to the Miranda and William Sapien Family Community and Education Assistance Fund at the Albuquerque Community Foundation, 624 Tijeras Avenue, NW, Alb., NM 87104; 505.883.6240; or at

To send flowers to the family in memory of William Sapien, please visit our flower store.

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Friday, February 17, 2023

4:30 - 6:00pm (Mountain time)

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Saturday, February 18, 2023

Starts at 10:00am (Mountain time)

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