Thursday, May 27, 2010

OBITUARY: Nicholas Anderson Smallridge

Nicholas Anderson Smallridge defied the odds in living to the age of 79, some 30 years after being diagnosed with a form of muscular dystrophy that ravaged his body, but not his indomitable spirit. He amazed us, time and time again, displaying an incredible strength of will and a basic faith in rising each morning to a glass that, for him, was always half-full. He was a man of keen intellect, tall and handsome, blessed with a charm that drew people to him, and a sense of humor that ranged from dry witticisms to silly jokes. He had an innate sense of detail and symmetry, stemming, perhaps, from his many years as an accountant; along with an abiding interest in World War II, classic movies, crossword puzzles and Sunday brunch at El Camino.
Nick was born on a ranch in Ancho, in Lincoln County, where Billy the Kid once roamed to fame, and family tales. Nick recalled the link between the Kid and Nick’s grandfather in articles published in Socorro’s El Defensor Chieftain. He was equally proud of his West Virginia heritage, home to Cody Odell Smallridge, a colorful character in his own right who took the train west and met the beautiful Beatrice Lopez at the train station in Albuquerque. Nick was the youngest of their three children; a brother, Val Costello Smallridge, died long ago; his sister, Carmie S. Campbell, passed last January. The boy with the blond hair and blue eyes grew up in the Barelas neighborhood in downtown Albuquerque during the Depression. In 1951, as a young man, he moved to Socorro where he met and married Virginia Torres, “the prettiest girl in town.” Nick returned to Albuquerque in 1956 to work for several accounting firms (among them Neff, and Meyners) and builder Ed Snow. Nick joined brothers-in-law Lawrence Torres and Steve S. Torres in a life-changing venture when they built and in 1963 opened El Camino Restaurant adjacent to El Camino Motel, the dream of Virginia’s parents, Estevan and Petrita Torres. In 1971, following a devastating fire, Nick and Virginia rebuilt the restaurant and ran it for another 20 years. They developed loyal customers and first-class employees, and supported countless youth teams and community causes. Together, they traveled to California as wholesale jewelers during the silver-and-turquoise boom of the ‘70s; and toured Europe twice in the early 80s. They enjoyed celebrating anniversaries at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, and periodic trips to Las Vegas for elegant dinners and Keno.
In the years following his wife’s death in December 2000, Nick indulged his interest in watching old movies – among his favorite actors were Humphrey Bogart, Steve McQueen, Grace Kelly and Ingrid Bergman. He delighted in his grandchildren, and lived to meet his infant great-grandson. Among the survivors who mourn his passing are his daughter, Valerie Kimble of the family home, and son, Nick Smallridge Jr. and wife, Sue, of El Paso, Texas. A son, Brian Smallridge, died in 1985. Mass of the Resurrection was celebrated Wednesday, May 26 at San Miguel Church, preceded by a Rosary at 8:30 a.m. Funeral arrangements were entrusted to Daniels Funeral Service of Socorro. Those who wish to send condolences may do so at www.

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