Tuesday, December 4, 2012

R.I.P. Robert Pineda

I had to write an obituary last night for an acquaintance I sincerely liked.

I met Bob Pineda at the old Club International gym about 20 years ago. I'd always run into him, former County Commissioner Froggy Fernandez and others there in the sauna. Bob always made me laugh, dishing dirt on politics, talking about his latest theater project he was involved with and whatnot.
Robert Pineda

I didn't see him as often after Club International closed. But when I ran into him, he was always full of cheer and gossip and usually involved in some creative endeavor.

Like I told his daughter last night, he was the least boring certified public accountant I ever met. I'm going to miss.

Here's that obit:

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican 
Dec. 4, 2012

Roberto Enrique Piñeda was a playwright, a poet, a politician, an actor and a certified public accountant.

He died Saturday from respiratory problems after a lengthy illness. He was 69.

“He was the cool grandpa, the cool uncle, the cool friend,” his daughter, Suzette Lucero, said Monday. “He was such a free spirit. … He was an original. He broke the mold.”

His brother, Arturo Piñeda, said Monday, “He was the oldest in the family. We lost our top man.”

Roberto Piñeda was born to Frank and Alice LaRibbas Piñeda in Santa Fe in 1943. He earned a business degree in 1976 from the College of Santa Fe and became an accountant.

In 1978, he was hired as city manager for Santa Fe. He was fired following a dispute with City Council members and his refusal to resign. But some city employees apparently disagreed strongly with that action. A September 1979 editorial in The New Mexican said, “in a remarkable display of courage under fire, several city staff members refuted council members’ charges that [Piñeda] was not a good administrator and was not accessible. In the end, the council’s actions and motivations came under more question than Piñeda’s ability to do the job.”

That wasn’t his last top government job. He also worked as Santa Fe County manager, city manager of Las Vegas, N.M., and finance director for the city of Taos.

He made at least a couple of stabs at electoral politics. In 1988, Piñeda was a candidate in the Democratic primary for a Santa Fe County Commission seat. In 2004, he ran for Santa Fe County treasurer but fell short in the primary.

But accounting and government wasn’t his entire life. In the 1990s, Piñeda became involved with local theater. He acted in productions such as the Northern New Mexico Community Theatre’s 1996 production of The Madwoman of Chaillot and Teatro Hispano de Santa Fe’s production of El Pozito that same year.

Piñeda also wrote a play called El Happy Hour, which was produced by Teatro Hispano de Santa Fe in 1997.

El Happy Hour is set in a Northern New Mexico bar and it’s a day of the week when people congregate,” Piñeda told The New Mexican before the play opened. “It’s a comedy of sorts with a very honest portrayal of subjects such as alcoholism, racism, intercultural marriages, domestic violence and sexual abuse.”

He later became a member of the Screen Actors Guild and appeared in speaking roles in three movies shot in New Mexico. In 2000, he played a doctor in All the Pretty Horses. Later he portrayed Saint Paul in Tortilla Heaven and a railroad brakeman in The Flock.

Piñeda is survived by his daughter and two sons, Joaquin Pineda and Robert J. Piñeda, six grandsons, his brother Arturo and his sister Dolores Chavez.

A visitation is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7, followed by a rosary at 7 p.m. at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, 417 Agua Fría St. A funeral Mass is planned for 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church.

Memorial contributions may be made in his name to the Carmelite Monastery, 50 Mount Carmel, Santa Fe, NM 87501.