Gerald Don Cortese, 73, a longtime De Baca County Rancher and Fort Sumner businessman died Sunday, June 14, 2009 at his home. His family was at his bedside.
Gerald Don was born March 26, 1936 in Fort Sumner to the home of Joe and Edith Florence McFadden Cortese. He was reared and attended school at Fort Sumner. He graduated from Fort Sumner High School on May 24, 1954. The following day Gerald Don married Lou Ann Barfield in Fort Sumner.
He was a member of the First Baptist Church in Fort Sumner and was an active member of the Fort Sumner community where he served two terms as a De Baca County Commissioner and was a Past President of the De Baca County Chamber of Commerce and member of the Lions Club.
Gerald Don owned and operated a Shamrock gas station in Fort Sumner and later in Clovis, N.M. He returned to Fort Sumner where he worked at Valley Feed and Grain with his father, Joe and uncles Mike and Ralph Cortese for many years. Gerald Don ran the Mill, worked in the Feed Store and also ranched until 1972. After the feed store was sold he began ranching full time until his retirement in 2007.
Gerald Don was preceded in death by a sister Betty Jo Caffo, his parents Joe and Edith Cortese; a great-granddaughter Mercey J. Cortese and a brother Joseph "Jo Jo" Cortese.
Survivors include his wife Lou Ann Cortese of Fort Sumner; daughter Edith Ann and husband Gary Smith of Newbern, Tenn.; two sons, Joe Don and wife Mae Cortese of Fort Sumner, Knox and wife Ealine Cortese of Fort Sumner; a niece who was raised as a daughter Debbie Caffo Weaver of San Francisco, Calif.; his stepmother Zela Cortese of Fort Sumner; three aunts, Dorothy Pitcher of Dallas, Texas; Lib Cortese of Fort Sumner and Dorothy Cortese of Albuquerque; 11 grandchildren, Sam Cortese of Carlsbad, Jon Cortese of Taos, Jesse Cortese of Loving, Casey Cortese and Kandrice Chavez of Fort Sumner, Carrie Cortese of Fort Sumner, Zack and Wendy Smith of Newbern, Tenn., Victoria and Bathan Shaner of East Sound, Wash.; Nicole Cortese of Amarillo, Texas, Arron Cortese and fiancÚ Shara Gammill of Fort Sumner, Luke and Dawna Cortese of Fort Sumner; nine great-grandchildren, Tristen Cortese, Mea Cortese, Haily Cortese, Jon Deagen Cortese, Jordan Cortese, Ja'Neava Cortese, Rylee Smith, John Knox Smith, Cade Smith and Alex Smith. Also surviving are several nieces, nephews other relatives and many special friends and neighbors.
Visitation will be Tuesday from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the funeral home.
Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday, June 17, 2009 at the First Baptist Church in Fort Sumner with Rev. Bill Sessom officiating. Burial will follow in the Cortese family plot, Fort Sumner Cemetery. Pallbearers will be Gerald Don's grandsons Sam Cortese, Jon Cortese, Jesse Cortese, Casey Cortese, Zack Smith, Eric Smith, Arron Cortese, Luke Cortese and Tristen Cortese.
The family prefers memorials in memory of Gerald Don to the Baptist Children's Home, P.O. Box 629, Portales, NM 88130.
All arrangements are under the direction of Chavez Funeral Home, 830 N. Fifth Street; Fort Sumner, New Mexico. (575) 355-2311. To place an online tribute or sign the guest book, please visit www.chavezfuneralhome.com