Elois "Al" Cortez of Craig passed away Feb. 19, 2006. He was a beloved husband, father, friend, teacher and a fine fisherman. Al was born Jan. 28, 1926, in Questa, N.M., the son of Elois O. Cortez Sr. and Josephine Wisehart Cortez.
He was issued a draft notice during his senior year of high school, but he persuaded the U.S. Army to defer his military service until his graduation. He served in the European Theater of World War II until he was wounded in combat and briefly held a prisoner of war in a German hospital. He was honorably discharged as a corporal and was awarded the Purple Heart.
When his military service ended, he attended Adams State College in Alamosa, where he earned a bachelor's degree in education. He later earned a master's degree-plus from Adams State. After graduating from college, Al began a 37-year teaching career, beginning in Blanca, where he taught high school and coached basketball. While in Blanca, he met his future wife, Ardith Ann Medina. They were married on Feb. 9, 1952, in Raton, N.M. They had three children, Greg, Marjorie and Ed.
Al later taught in the Alamosa public schools for 13 years. In 1967, Al, Ardith and their children moved to Craig, where he taught for 20 years.
In Craig, he was known by many as the driver's ed teacher. He taught hundreds of Craig students how to drive, a part of his career he thoroughly enjoyed. He retired from teaching in 1987. In retirement, Al developed a penchant for winemaking, which he did mostly for others because he rarely drank. He grew grapes and always planted a garden, which meant fresh produce for the family and friends. He took great pride in doing things himself and in his own way.
He is survived by his wife, Ardith, of Craig; two sons, Greg, of Craig, and Ed, of Denver; a daughter, Marjorie (Charles "Bo") Behrens, of Salt Lake City, Utah; grandchildren Kristin and Andrew Cortez, of Craig, and Elizabeth Behrens and Grace Behrens, of Salt Lake City. Other survivors are brothers Charlie (Lena) Cortez, of Santa Fe., N.M.; Henry Robert Cortez, of Questa, N.M.; and sisters Dorothy (Francis) Brandle, of Santa Fe; Betty McFie of Independence, Mo.; and Ella Cortez, of Questa.
Al was preceded in death by his parents and brothers Charlie Cortez I, Elois O. Cortez Jr. and Alonzo Cortez.
Funeral services were held Feb. 23, 2006, at the First Baptist Church in Craig. Burial with full military honors was at Craig Cemetery. The family suggests memorial contributions be made to The Memorial Hospital Building Fund in care of Grant Mortuary, 621 Yampa Ave.