Fabian Chavez Jr. began his political career in 1951 as a Democratic representative in the New Mexico State Legislature. In addition to serving in both the House and Senate, Chavez held many positions within state government, including Director of Tourism, Director of Economic Development and State Insurance Superintendent. Chavez also served on the national level as Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Director of Travel and Tourism under the Carter administration in 1977.
A Brother as a Mentor
Chavez was born in Santa Fe on August 31, 1924, at Marion Hall in the old St. Vincent Hospital. He was the third-youngest of 10 children born to Fabian Chavez Sr. and Maria Nicolasa Roybal. Although he was the third-youngest, he was named for his father. Manuel Ezekiel was his eldest brother. He left for for the seminary a few days after Fabian was born. Chavez was 14 when he saw his big brother for the first time. Manuel Ezekiel’s name changed when he became a Franciscan priest. Fray Angelico Chavez became one of New Mexico’s foremost historians as well as a writer and poet.
A Life Full Circle
The same year that Fabian Chavez met his eldest brother he took it upon himself to learn the history of New Mexico. He memorized all of the artifacts at the Palace of the Governors. Later, he began giving tours of the museum for 50 cents. His life came full circle when he retired and volunteered at the very same museum he had worked at as a teenager. Chavez would proudly tell the tourists, “New Mexico and Santa Fe were founded before Plymouth Rock!”