|Join the Mission|
|Download Paper as PDF|
|Breaking Open the Word|
|Saint of the Week|
|World & Nation|
|Paper Delivery: Questions|
Hispanic leader Lena Archuleta dies at 90
By Julie Filby
Lena Lovato Archuleta—a long-time educator and administrator in Denver Public Schools, community activist, and dedicated supporter of the Catholic community—died April 3. She was 90.
Lena Lovato was born in Clapham, N.M., July 25, 1920, to Eusebio and Dominguita Lovato. She graduated from Raton High School in Raton, N.M., and the University of Denver with a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in library science.
In 1943 she married Juan U. Archuleta. The couple had been married 55 years when he died in 1998.
Archuleta taught in New Mexico and Colorado for more than 30 years. The teacher, librarian and administrator attained many noteworthy “firsts” in her career including: first Hispanic female principal in the Denver Public School system; and first Hispanic president of the Denver Classroom Teachers’ Association, Colorado Library Association and Latin American Educational Foundation. In 2002 she became the first Hispanic woman to have a DPS elementary school named after her: the Lena Lovato Archuleta Elementary School in Montbello.
Following retirement from DPS in 1979, she volunteered with many organizations including the Latin American Research and Service Agency, Mi Casa Resource Center for Women, American Association of Retired Persons, and Centro San Juan Diego—the archdiocese’s ministry responding to spiritual, economic and social concerns in the Hispanic community.
“Lena was very active in helping Centro San Juan Diego with her volunteer efforts,” said Franciscan Sister Alicia Cuarón, director of the Bienstar Family Services Program of Centro San Juan Diego. “She was very committed and dedicated to our community and spent a lot of time volunteering at Centro.”
In 2005 she was honored by the group for her service with an inaugural Las Madrinas (Spanish for godmother) award.
“Lena was a gracious, caring, spirit-filled woman,” Sister Cuarón said. “We were lucky to have known her and to have been graced by her presence.”
Archuleta, a longtime parishioner of Good Shepherd Church in Denver, was dedicated to her parish community as well. In a past interview with the Denver Catholic Register, Deacon George Morin described her as “kind, gracious, humble, and delightful and a great model for the rest of us.”
Other honors given to Archuleta were Regis University’s Civis Princeps (First Citizen) Citation in Humanitarianism, Bernie Valdez Award for Community Service, Hispanic Annual Salute, Women’s Bank Education Award, Denver Hispanic Chamber of Commerce “Famous Firsts” Award and the National Achievement Award from Mortar Board, Inc. In 1986 she was inducted into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame.
In 2001 she received the regional Mujer Award from the National Hispana Leadership Institute. The same year, former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb included her in a tribute to “Mile High Legend Unsung Heroes.” In 2002 the Denver Public Library Commission created the Lena L. Archuleta Community Service Award.
Archuleta is survived by several nephews and nieces. A funeral Mass will be held at 10 a.m. April 30 at Good Shepherd Church at 2626 E. Seventh Parkway in Denver.