DeVargas Funeral Home & Crematory of the Espanola Valley provides obituaries for Benny J. Ortega Jr. “Shorty” and Richard P. Cook. Read on for full obituaries.

Benny J. Ortega Jr. “Shorty” of Hernandez
Benny J. Ortega Jr. “Shorty”, 67, a resident of Hernandez, passed away on Sunday, April 16, 2017. He was preceded in death by his parents, Benny “Avenicio” Sr. and Jessie “Jesucita” Ortega; grandparents, Jose Dario and Maria Elena Ortega and Prudencio and Agapita Lucero; sister, Gloria Bendiola and nephew, Rudy Bendiola.

Mr. Ortega is survived by his siblings, Joseph G. Ortega (Brenda) of Nambe, Adan Ortega (Becky) of Santa Clara, Eileen Ulibarri and Rebecca Cordova both of Hernandez; nephews and nieces, Joseph Ortega Jr. (Kathleen) of Española, Jesse James Ortega of Tierra Azul, John J. Ortega (Maria) of Hernandez, Andrea Salazar (Brandon) Mario Ulibarri (Crystal) of Hernandez, Julleen Ulibarri of Albuquerque, Krystal Ulibarri (Keith) all of Hernandez, Jerome and Chris Cordova of Truchas, Amo Ortega, Mario and Alicia Ortega all of Albuquerque; nieces and nephews, Darlene Perez, Celina and Simon, Jessica and Bridgette Bendiola and Minnette Duran; great-nieces and nephews, Julius, Anjoli, Dyami, Analiza, Martin, Estrella, Janay, Ari, Savannah, Lucianna, Leandro and Joseph and other relatives and friends.

Public visitation will begin on Saturday, April 22, 2017 at 9:30 a.m. in the Sangre de Cristo Chapel of DeVargas Funeral Home & Crematory, with devotional service to follow at 10:00 a.m. Burial will be held at the family plot in Hernandez.

The family of Benny J. Ortega Jr. “Shorty” has entrusted the care of their loved one to the DeVargas Funeral Home & Crematory of the Española Valley.

Richard P. Cook of Española
Richard P. Cook, 91, a lifelong resident of Española, passed away peacefully at his home on April 17,2017 surrounded by his loved ones. Richard was born in Española, New Mexico on March 25, 1926 to Windell P. Cook, a businessman, and Sarah A. Acherman, a school teacher. He graduated from Santa Fe High School in 1943. After high school he was inducted into the U.S. Navel Service in 1944. He served in the Navy in the Asiatic Pacific Arena during World War II. He was a trained “frogman” that served as the predecessors to the Navy Seals. After he was honorably discharged from the Navy, he went to college at Denver University where he graduated in 1950 with his degree in Business Administration. Richard was an avid fisherman and loved the outdoors.

He returned to the Española Valley in 1950 where he started his career working for his father in the Española Mercantile. In 1953 he married the love of his life, Shirley A. Gordon. Richard and Shirley were blessed with four daughters, Deborah Ann Cook, Kelly Marie Cook, Kim Alison Cook (deceased) and Katharine Alison Cook.

In 1957 Richard started the Española Transit Mix Company. It was the beginning of an auspicious career that spanned six decades with business operations located in Española, Santa Fe, Los Alamos and other parts of northern New Mexico. Richard eventually took over the Española Mercantile from his father renaming it Cook’s Home Center and growing into a well-known hardware store in the Valley. Richard expanded his manufacturing and road construction businesses under the Española Mercantile Company flagship to include Española Transit Mix, Los Alamos Transit Mix, Associated Asphalt and Materials, EMCO of Santa Fe and RICO Construction. He also acquired and developed several sand and gravel mining operations in Española and Santa Fe. His business operations made him one of the single largest private employers in northern New Mexico. 

Richard was also a founding board member of Valley National Bank. The bank solidified Richard’s position as a pillar in the Española community by providing capital and funding to a vast number of businesses and individuals in the Valley. After celebrating 50 years in business, Valley National was sold to Century Bank in 2015. 

In addition to his active business operations, Richard engaged in land acquisition and development. His land acquisitions over the years made him one of the largest land owners in northern New Mexico. His developments included business parks, residential and commercial subdivisions as well as leased commercial properties in Española, Santa Fe, Taos and Cuba. His most recent commercial real estate development project included the Village Plaza at Tierra Contenta and Santa Fe Commercial Center, a combined 420-acre commercial development adjacent to the Santa Fe Airport in southwest Santa Fe. He most recently completed construction on the Jaguar Interchange at NM 599 which will serve as the new gateway to the Santa Fe Airport and which was the first privately-funded interchange of its kind in New Mexico.
Richard was also philanthropic by nature. He dedicated twenty years as a volunteer firefighter for the Española Fire Department and was an Eagle Scout and a troop leader for many years. Richard was a major contributor to several charities and non-profit organizations, his favorite charities including those that supported the Valley’s children.

In 2016, Richard received the Living Treasure Award “in recognition of a man who has contributed to his community by establishing commerce and stability for generations by enriching the beautiful tapestry of the City of Española.” March 25, 2016 was also declared Richard P. Cook Day in the City of Española in recognition of his many contributions to the Española Valley.
Richard was preceded in death by his brother Tom Cook, and his daughter Kim Alison Cook. He is survived by his wife of 63 years Shirley Cook, his daughters Debbie Cantrup, Kelly Armstrong and husband Hal Armstrong, Katharine Fishman and husband Andrew Fishman; his grandchildren, Lisa Bakosi and husband Jozsef
Bakosi, Chelsea Cantrup, Kacie Caster and husband Matt Caster, Sarah Armstrong, Jacob Fishman, Kalyssa Fishman, and Zachary Fishman; and his great-grandchildren, Peter Bakosi, Corinne Bakosi, Hunter Cantrup, Alexys Caster, Richard Caster and Brandon Caster. 

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Richard’s memory to the Rio Arriba County 4H Youth Development Program, the YMCA of Española or the Boys and Girls Clubs of Santa Fe/Del Norte. A community celebration of the life of Richard P. Cook will be held this Saturday, April 22, 2017 at 1:00 pm at the Ohkay Owingeh Hotel Resort and Casino ballroom.

The family of Richard P. Cook has entrusted the care of their beloved one to the DeVargas Funeral Home and Crematory of The Beautiful Española Valley.