Matron of Dolores
Dolores icon Ruby Gonzales is honored as Citizen of Year at annual Chamber of Commerce banquet
For some, the urge to help is unquenchable, a sense of volunteer duty that holds communities together and keeps events happening year to year.
Such is the case for Ruby Gonzales, a Dolores mainstay and forever-young icon of the volunteer spirit.
Her commitment to Dolores earned a Citizen of the Year award during the Dolores Chamber of Commerce annual banquet Saturday night.
"Nobody in town does as much volunteering as Ruby," said chamber director Stuart Hanold. "She is also invaluable as a local historian. She knows everybody and has a wonderful memory of Dolores people and history."
At 82, Ruby is not slowing down. Her love of Dolores and its people runs deep.
"I'm honored and will keep volunteering for my hometown as long as I can," she said. "There are a lot of good people here."
In 1974, Ruby was honored for top citizen as well, and in 1980 she ran the town as Dolores mayor.
Born and raised in Dolores along with seven siblings, she has seen the town during more bustling times. Her dad was a railroad foreman for the Rio Grande Southern. Trains full of lumber, freight and passengers rumbled through Dolores in those days.
"I've always loved the people here. When you ask for their help, they always step forward," she said. "I started volunteering when the kids were in school and have not stopped since. I just really enjoy it, and I'm proud to get people to work together."
Her volunteer resume goes deep. She worked to establish the Anasazi Heritage Center, she is current president of Dolores Senior Citizens, and is the volunteer coordinator for Dolores Visitor's Center.
She lines up sponsors for the annual Escalante Days, organizes the Harvest Festival, and puts together her own Christmas bazaar.
"Last year, I had 50 vendors, the most since I started the bazaar in 1989. It has become quite popular," Gonzales said. "My hope for the future is to bring more businesses to town to keep Dolores going."
She is especially proud of organizing the Dolores all-school reunion, that she and her late husband, Frank, started in 1975.
"The first one we held brought in 1,000 graduates," she said.
Now the event is held every five years at the community center. The next reunion will be in 2015.
Ruby was also honored by the Community Center board for her 38 years as manager for the center.
Also at the event, West Fork Gallery was named business of the year for Dolores. Owner Michelle Pickens has created an impressive, well-organized store full of Western art, crafts, and unique items. Pickens offers framing services, and inside the store Karma Coffee serves up your favorite coffee beverages and includes Wi-Fi.
"West Fork Gallery is like the Pier One of Dolores. It's classy with good tastes. You can get things there you can't get anywhere else," said Hanold. "It is a sturdy business with longevity that proves a real niche in this community."
This year's chamber banquet attracted a record 135 people, up from 81 last year. The silent auction at the banquet raised $4,500. The money will be used for scholarships for Dolores High School seniors.
Special thanks were given to entertaining Jazz Foam and the Naked Moose for catering the event. Steak and chicken alfredo followed by hot blueberry pie, made everyone happy and full.
"It was an excellent evening of good food, good people and good music," Hanold said.
Sam Green/Cortez Journal Superintendent Scott Cooper presented the Chamber Business of the Year A
Sam Green/Cortez Journal Stuart Hanold holds up a vase donated by Mane Shipping as Scott Cooper c
Sam Green/Cortez Journal Dr. Allan Burnside dons a Mardi Gras mask for the Dolores Chamber banque