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  • Memories of Don—A Eulogy Given by Dilli Bahr at Santa Rosa, Arizona, December 30, 2016

I am glad to be here and grateful to those of you who have worked hard and graciously to make this beautiful occasion possible. As I look around and see all of you, the grandchildren of Baptisto Lopez, I know that your grandfather and parents would be very proud of what you have done here. I am also grateful to the friends and relatives who have come from other places to share this day with me and Don.

I first saw Santa Rosa in the summer of 1962. Don and I had just married in Cambridge and drove to Arizona in a little black car. We came down the Salt River Canyon in June. I did not think it possible a place could be so hot. He, Don, was perfectly comfortable as he always was in the desert. We stopped in Tucson. The cheap hotel he wanted to stay in had an evaporative cooler and the windows were nailed shut. I said "I cannot stay here," so we got in the car and drove west toward the reservation. The sun was going down and the little nighthawks were flying in front of the car. We slept out in the open with the earth slowly cooling under us. Wonderful. As I am writing, I know this is why I married him. I was a sheltered Italian girl and he pushed me out of my comfort zone and brought me beauty.

Santa Rosa and the O'odham people meant a lot to Don and the story of Don's life is linked to the O'odham land here and in Salt River and Gila River and to the people who live here. Many of these people are gone and I will mention some of them today because they were important to Don and because they may have been important to some of you who are present. Collectively these people, now gone, held very special and unique knowledge and I think it is good to say their names today. I am only sorry I don't remember them all.

Don grew up in a small town in Iowa where boys could roam free, have BB guns and 22s, and do target practice at the abandoned stone quarry. His parents were loving, indulgent, and conservative. Don was a good student but I don't know why he decided to go east to Harvard. His parents were proud of it and horrified when he started growing his [End Page 486] hair long in college. Kids did that then and some still do it now as you can tell by looking at our grandchildren.

Don decided to major in anthropology. Anthropology, the study of man, is mostly the study of ways of life formed independently of western tradition. To Don it was the science of knowing the many interesting ways people can go about being human. In his sophomore year in college a teacher put him in touch with people in Tucson and thanks to the Franciscan priest Father Lambert, Don spent part of that summer living in the sacristy of the church in Santa Rosa. He met people there and from that time on, all he could think about was to come back to Arizona.

When I met Don the following year in college, Santa Rosa was all he talked about: the people, the desert, the flour tortillas. The next year we were in southern Mexico, Chiapas, in the middle of corn-growing country, and everywhere he asked for flour tortillas. Finally, they brought him some, they were very small and very thick, nothing like the big, thin, leathery, flavorful ones you get in O'odham country. He stopped asking for them until he brought me to Arizona.

The first summer we lived in Key Jones's house next to Chica Manuel and across from Juan Gregorio. That summer we slept outside in one of those iron beds that people had back then with the feet resting inside cans full of water to keep the insects from crawling up. We could hear voices murmuring and laughter coming from the...


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