Obituary: Jose Filbert Gonzales
May 14, 1923 – May 21, 2021
Jose Filbert (Fil) Gonzales, husband, father, grandfather, friend, and patriarch, passed peacefully on May 21st, 2021. The 21st day of the 21st year of the 21st century. He was born in a mining camp in Sopris, CO on May 14, 1923. He recently celebrated his 98th birthday.
Fil is survived by his wife, Lupie Gonzales; his three children, Phyllis Wittet, Jean Gonzales (Delane); Rita Niemi; grandchildren, Amanda Schard (Bryan), Nikki Sims (Harrel), Kacy Bouley (Nathan), Sashia Patterson (Craig), Stevi Wittet (Cody), Michael J. Palomino; and ten great grandchildren. He is preceded in death by his son, Filbert Michael Gonzales, who gave his life to serve his country in the Vietnam War; sisters Emma Espinoza, Esther Ortivez, Joesphine Hall, Irene Montoya; and two sons-in-law Steve Wittet and Randy Niemi.
He was the last living Gonzales sibling.
Fil was a WWII veteran that earned the distinguished purple heart for his bravery. During his tour of duty, he was military police (MP). One of his duties was to safely escort pilots to their planes before leaving on their missions. He was also part of the motorcycle escort crews for both General George C. Patton, and Bob Hope.
Fil was a working man. After he completed his tour in WWII, he went on to be a coal miner, starting in Utah, and continuing his mining work in his forever home in the Roaring Fork Valley. He eventually moved on to be a delivery driver for a time, in Glenwood Springs, before taking on the role as Utility Maintenance Coordinator for the City of Glenwood, repairing water main breaks at all hours, and earning his nickname “Water Works.”
Fil met Lupie Garbiso in Walsenburg, CO and they were married on January 18, 1947 in Raton, NM. They were married for 74 years.
They moved from Helper, UT to Glenwood Springs in 1961, where they made their home with their four children for 60 years.
You could tell he had a love for baseball hats because he always wore one. He was never without a cap. He had a collection of hats that he was very proud of!
Normally he was a man of few words, but when he had a story to tell the words would flow.
Fil became a staple in Glenwood’s downtown after retiring. He would take daily walks, sitting on the benches for hours, watching the people pass by, and telling his life stories to anyone who took a seat. He has been photographed more times than we can count, even being featured on The Post Independents front page on multiple occasions.
The family would like to thank the Rifle Colorado State Veterans Nursing Home for all the love and respect they showed him in his short stay. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Fil’s honor to the Colorado State Veterans Nursing Home in Rifle.
The services will be Saturday, June 5th, 2021, 10 a.m. at Farnum Holt Mortuary followed by graveside service at Rosebud Cemetery.
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