Major Christopher A. Cortez, USA, Ret., 65, slipped away June 26, 2017, surrounded by his family in Roswell, New Mexico.
Born in 1951 at Ft. Bragg to an infantryman, 2nd Lt. Cortez broke with tradition and joined the field artillery to destroy, defeat or disrupt the enemies of the United States. His service took him from the plains of Oklahoma, the city crowned by the Acropolis, the DMZ on the peninsula of Korea, the forests of Washington and finally to Dow Hall at the New Mexico Military Institute.
After retiring, Major Cortez stayed on at NMMI. He taught military history, often in the garb of a Union Army private, coached drama with a penchant for the Bard of Avon, and, most importantly, spent 23 years mentoring the young men and women of the Corps of Cadets.
He is proceeded in death by his father Major Alvino Cortez. He is survived by his wife of 44 years Kathy Cortez, sons Christopher R. Cortez and spouse Jessica Atkins, Ryan Cortez, granddaughter Sofia Cortez, daughter-in-law Kathryn Quiett, mother Ann Cortez, sisters Elizabeth Robles and Lena Cortez, and brother Steve Cortez.
To keep watch on future generations of cadets, the Major will be inurned at the NMMI Columbarium.
Half way down the trail to hell,
In a shady meadow green,
Are the souls of many departed Redlegs
Camped near a good old-time canteen.
And this eternal resting place
Is known as Fiddler's Green
Though other must go down the trail
To seek a warmer scene,
No Redleg ever goes to hell,
Ere he's emptied his canteen.
And so returns to drink again,
With friends at Fiddler's Green.
A Memorial Service will be held at Pearson Auditorium, NMMI at 13:00 (1:00 PM), Saturday August 19, 2017.
Major Cortez, you touched so many lives while on this earth. I regret not being able to say goodbye, but I cherish all the wonderful talks and stories we shared during our time at NMMI. May you rest in peace, and keep a watchful eye over future generations of young men and women, and may your family be comforted in their time of loss and need.
Lisa ChavezPueblo West, CO
I was saddened to hear of the passing of my friend, Chris. We shared a special bond as one of only a handful of Army brats in our graduating class at Hart High. Chris and I became especially close when we worked as box boys at Vons and often went to the beach to go body surfing (way before Boogie boards, mind you, just with our bodies!). We commiserated about life, work, and women. I never saw Chris happier than when he told me about dating and getting engaged to Kathy. Unfortunately, our careers took us to the far reaches of the world and I was only able to visit Chris twice after we graduated from college. I remember him coming to our 20th reunion in his dress blues and how proud I was of him. I got to visit him at his home in Roswell when I was attending a course in Artesia; I finally met his sons and said hello again to Kathy.
Chris was a gentle soul and I miss him. Chris, may you rest in peace and prepare our way for when we meet again. Ready to body surf??
Patrick ComeySanta Clarita, CA
Kathy, I was so sorry to hear about Chris. My thoughts and prayers are with you, the boys, and the rest of the family. I'd love for you to get in contact with me when you can.
Terri WigintonRoswell, NM
Our condolences to the family of Major Cortez. He was TLA for my first son (HS 2013) and my son currently at NMMI. Maj. Cortez was an incredibly kind and caring man. There was never an occasion when he was not extremely helpful with issues that arose with our sons at NMMI and we were grateful for his integrity and character as he played surrogate parent to both of our boys.
Your family will be in our prayers.
Mark and Debi Schwab
Mark and Debi SchwabFarmington, NM
We are so sorry for our loss. Our prayers for your family. Chris and I worked together for years as TLA's and I will remember him as kind, caring and concerned about the cadets at NMMI.
USA Army (Ret)
Jesse and Robin JOhnsonBradford, RI
My heart goes out to you all. Major Chris was so special to my Irish troupe. He was so gracious with them. May you all heal and remember all the special times you had. All my love.
Tennise LucasRoswell, NM
Debbie and I send our condolences and offer our prayers of comfort at this difficult time. Chris was always willing to help with anything and he will be missed here at the Institute. I have many fond and happy memories of the times we worked together.
Bill and Debbie Lamb
Bill LambRoswell, NM
I am very sorry for your loss. I enjoyed every day that I worked with Chris as a TLA and instructor at NMMI. This is a real loss for NMMI and all the cadets he touched over the year. We will all miss Chris. May God bless you and your family at this time of sorrow and bring you comfort and support.
MAJ, USA Ret.
John K. UmbergerRoswell, NM