Tony Gabaldon (June 3, 1930 – January 3, 1998) was a teacher and principal, who became a politician and was elected as Arizona state senator. His Mexican-American family has lived in Belen, New Mexico for hundreds of years. Senator Gabaldon represented citizens of District 2 in Arizona, which includes Flagstaff, the largest city in northern Arizona, and Navajo and Apache counties. He is the father of marine scientist-turned- best-selling time-travel author, Diana Gabaldon.
Tony Gabaldon was born in Belen, New Mexico, near Albuquerque, where his family has lived for hundreds of years. He moved to Arizona at the age of thirteen. While still a high school student in Flagstaff, he distinguished himself as an exceptional athlete, all-state quarterback, and chef. He remained an enthusiastic supporter of athletic events in the community through his later service as a teacher, coach and principal. His accomplishments earned him induction into the Flagstaff High School Hall of Fame.
Elected to the Arizona senate in 1972, Gabaldon served for 16 years, being re-elected through that period. He served in other political offices, as well as being active in civic life. He was elected as Coconino County supervisor, serving until his retirement in 1995.
Gabaldon died at his home from a heart attack on January 3, 1998 at the age of sixty-seven. He was survived by his second wife Margaret, to whom he was married for 23 years at the time of his passing; two daughters (with his first wife, Jacqueline Sykes Gabaldon, Sept. 16, 1930-July 21, 1971): bestselling author Diana J. Gabaldon, a marine scientist and best-selling author of time travel novels; and Theresa Gabaldon, a distinguished law professor; and four grandchildren.
Arizona Senate tribute
After his death, the Arizona Senate passed a resolution celebrating the life of Tony Gabaldon, which states:
- A lifelong Democrat, Tony Gabaldon embarked on his political career in 1972 when he won a seat in the Arizona State Senate. He served as a senator from Flagstaff for sixteen years, working diligently on behalf of education and public retirement issues and displaying a tremendous ability to garner the support and respect of his peers on both sides of the political aisle. He went on to serve as a Coconino County supervisor, a post he held until his retirement from public service in 1995. A candidate for the United States Congress in 1976, Tony Gabaldon's other career efforts included service as a staff director for former United States Senator Dennis DeConcini, a worker on Eddie Basha's 1994 campaign for governor and a manager of personal rental properties.
- Despite the demands of his work, Tony Gabaldon gave selflessly of his time, energy and abilities to various worthwhile endeavors, including those that benefited children, seniors, education, Hispanic politics and the Catholic Church. He was the first volunteer director of Headstart of Northern Arizona, served as a Boy Scout leader and was a founder of the Coordinating Council of Flagstaff on Mexican-American Affairs, which he also served as a coordinator of its annual Miguel Alfaro Memorial Basketball Tournament.
- Known statewide for his exceptional cooking skills, Tony Gabaldon was un gran cocinero who not only treated friends and legislative colleagues to his culinary creations but also used his talents on behalf of various worthwhile charitable causes. He would frequently cook to raise funds to buy athletic shoes for children and each year he prepared a dinner for every senior citizens' center in his district.
- A loyal and dedicated friend and mentor to countless individuals throughout his lifetime, Tony Gabaldon will be greatly missed by his many friends and associates as well as his wife, daughters and four grandchildren.
Legacy and honors
- He was inducted into the Flagstaff High School Hall of Fame.
- Gabaldon Hall, a residential dormitory at Northern Arizona University, was named in his honor.
- Resolution: On the Death of the Honorable Tony Gabaldon, Arizona Senate
- "Where We Work, Live, and Learn,", Northern Arizona University web site.