Gilbert Eugene Baca “Gene” left us on November 18, 2021 after a long, satisfying and full life of 94 years and 7 months. He was preceded in death by his parents Thomas Montoya Baca and Mary Isabel “May” McAuley Baca and three brothers, Ernest Mitchell, Robert Thomas “Bobby “and a stillborn brother. He is survived by his wife of 62 years Bonnie Baca, a sister-in-law Marion Baca, and several nieces and nephews.
He was born April 19, 1927 in the house his grandfather, A.B. Baca, Sr. built in 1910 in Socorro, NM. His great uncle, Elfego Baca, of NM fame was the youngest brother of A.B., Sr. Gilbert attended school in Socorro until his senior year of high school when his family moved to San Pedro, California, where he graduated from high school at the age of 16. Upon graduation Gilbert asked the US Post Office if they could hire him for any type of work, thinking he could load packages or other chores since he knew he was too young to work as a federal employee. However, the post office was desperate for help since most able-bodied men were fighting in WWII, so he was given a uniform and a sack of mail and embarked on what became a life-long postal career. Just barely 18 years old he joined the Navy serving on three carriers: the USS Cowpens in Pearl Harbor, where he saw action in the Pacific, the USS Kitty Hawk and finally the USS Franklin CV-13, while under repairs in NYC, Brooklyn naval yard where he worked in the mail room returning letters after having to stamp them KIA and MIA. After discharge as Seaman 1st Class K Division, he returned to San Pedro continuing his career at the US Post Office, this time as a full-fledged federal civil servant. He worked as a letter carrier, supervisor, and finally as manager of the West Los Angeles Post Office before retirement. He then worked for three plus years for the City of Los Angeles as a golf starter which he loved since he was an avid golfer and could play golf at any Los Angeles Golf Course at any time.
In 1989 he and Bonnie moved to Rio Rancho, NM where Gil enjoyed life immensely, playing golf, enjoying lots of friends, enjoying watching their beloved USC Trojan college football games which they held season tickets for many years. They enjoyed travelling extensively and for the past fifteen plus years attending their yearly USS Franklin reunions with all of their “Franklin Family”. He was a member of the American Legion and a life-long member of the VFW. Gil lived a long happy life filled to the brim.
His viewing and visitation service will be at 11:00 am on December 15, 2021, at Daniels Funeral Home, 4310 Sara Road, SE, Rio Rancho followed by internment at 2:15 pm at the Santa Fe National Cemetery, 501 Guadalupe St., Santa Fe, NM