Vicente Francisco Arroyo Jr.

10-04-1925 to 01-16-2015

Vince: We’d like to thank each one of you who are here to honor the memory of Vicente Francisco Arroyo (Rocky) and support our family.

I am sure everyone here has very special memories of Dad as his love, kindness, coaching, teaching, and compassion were far reaching throughout his long and accomplished life.

Shortly after dad’s passing, a family meeting was held to decide who would be given the honor to deliver his eulogy. 

As the oldest, I was given the opportunity and honor along with the youngest of the ten children, Stephany, who happens to be carrying the 59th member of what we call our immediate family.

We are here to honor a great man and his legacy but acknowledge that words are not enough to describe his wonderful, compassionate and loving spirit; nor are words enough to express the impact he has had on each and every one of our lives.

Perhaps the best place to begin is a brief review of who we knew to be simply our dad. 

The youngest of 3 brothers, with a 4th to be added later, dad was born into a family that valued togetherness, sports, hard work and “strawberry sodas.”

My grandfather, (the first Vicente Francisco Arroyo) being wise beyond his years, took dad to work with him at the railroad yards in El Paso.

Dad had graduated from El Paso High School at the age of 16 (he double passed a couple of grades); Abuelito wanted to give dad an opportunity to have a career to support his future family.

After a week of hard labor and having watched a fellow railroad worker hurt, dad decided that perhaps a college education was a better avenue for him to follow.

He ended up attending the University of New Mexico in order to pursue a degree in electrical engineering but also lettered and exceled in 3 sports - football, basketball, and baseball.

This began what became a life long love and dedication to UNM and his LOBOS.

After graduating from UNM at the age of twenty with his bachelors of science, Dad began his fascinating and far reaching career which spanned various fields and industries. 

He taught math, became an acclaimed basketball coach, worked at Sandia National Labs, refereed and officiated at the high school and college level. 

He started numerous companies throughout his life and always sought out new opportunities and ventures to support his family.  Throughout all of these endeavors, dad exemplified what he taught to his children: that whatever we did, we should strive to be our personal best. 

Sports were always an important part of our growing up here in Albuquerque--on more than one occasion going with my father to games, my babysitter became the high school football or basketball game itself. 

He instilled in all of us a love for sports and a love for competition. In fact, dads’ love of competition was historic—whether he was on the basketball court or playing a game of scrabble.  He was a true competitor, even until the end. 

He engaged those around him in conversations, discussions and sometimes debates, making a conscious effort to make them feel welcome and comfortable.

Many times, along with those conversations came well timed and perfectly placed teasing and bantering. For example, If you said,  “I’m going to run to the store”, he would say, “You might want to drive the car.”

It is rare to meet a man who is humble yet powerful, serious and humorous, mild, yet persistent to meet the staggering needs of a continually growing and complex family. 

Dad always said that he blessed with his family—and also blessed to have found two wonderful, loving women to love and marry at separate points in his life and to have loved so deeply.

Stephany:   I never had the opportunity to meet Alice—dad’s first wife and the mother of their 7 kids. I know that she must have been a wonderful and strong woman—and that she clearly had good taste by picking dad as her husband.  

Later in his life and after many joys and sorrows, Dad met our amazing mom, Lee.  Their love and devotion to one another was an inspiration—they were true partners—in life, in business, as parents and friends.  My dad noted that he was so lucky to have met her and even doubly lucky because with her came to beautiful baby boys.

As my brother Vince has noted, Dad had already lived an incredibly full and impressive life up to that point. He had achieved more than most as an athlete, a professional and family man. He had amassed an incredible number of unbelievable life stories, collected awards and accolades, endured unthinkable losses and touched many lives throughout New Mexico.

He, together with my mom, brought two families—her two boys and his 7 children—together.  Then, they thankfully found enough room in their hearts and in their home for me, the tenth Arroyo.

Together, they formed and loved an unconventional but highly impressive and always entertaining family. Our family gatherings are large and loud, full of laughter, love, food and often have sports playing in the background. 

We are all so grateful to be a part of this collective experience—and honored that we had dad as our role model and patriarch.   

He stressed to all of us the importance of an education and did all that he could to help us excel as students.

He spent countless nights tutoring us at kitchen tables, helping with homework or guiding us through next steps in educational pursuits. I like to think that we have made our dad proud. 

Of our siblings, there are 9 bachelor’s degrees; several have master’s degrees and one with a doctorate - each one of us receiving dad’s encouragement and support to achieve pursue our dreams.

He extended his high expectations and love to grandchildren and great grandchildren as well. He encouraged them, did what he could to support them and beamed with pride at their graduations, games and performances.

He shared engineering books with his grandson Rudy—who has followed in his footsteps as an electrical engineer; he picked granddaughters up from school and attended countless sporting events, many times coaching his grandkids from the stands and sidelines.

Although he had lived a life full of trophies, accomplishments and awards--to include most recently his induction into the NM Sports Hall of fame—what made him most proud was his family—his wife, his 10 kids, his 23 grandchildren, 8 great grandchildren and 2 great-great grandchildren.  We, as he said, are his greatest legacy. 

He was and is proud of each and every one of us – and not necessarily for the awards that we hang on walls or the degrees we have accumulated, but for who we are as people, citizens and family members. 

He would sometimes say that it is better to be lucky than good, and I think I speak for all ten of us when I say that I truly feel lucky to have the honor of calling him dad. 

Thank you again for celebrating his life with us.  There are of course thousands of anecdotes that we all could share as he impacted countless lives in his 89 years -- so in the spirit of dad, we challenge each and every one of you to meet someone new here today and share a story about dad in order to perpetuate his memory.

Vince:        Our family is truly blessed to have had the opportunity to come together and to have one incredible man as our patriarch.

We are eternally grateful to Lee for the joy she brought to dad, the way she cared for him and for how she loved him until the very end. 

American writer Ursula Le Guin says “It is good to have an end to journey towards, but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”

Dad is now resting, but as easy as that is to say, I never will be ready to say good-bye, rather I will say until we meet again. 

I love you dad and I really will miss almost beating you at anything.





Vicente "Rocky" Arroyo's Obituary

Vicente Francisco Arroyo, Jr.
October 4, 1925 - January 16, 2015

Vicente Francisco “Rocky” Arroyo was born on October 4, 1925 to Austreberta and Vicente Arroyo in El Paso, TX. The youngest of three sons, he was an accomplished athlete, gifted student, and successful businessman. He was also extremely dedicated to his family.

Vicente graduated from El Paso High School at the age of sixteen and attended the University of New Mexico (UNM) where he received a degree in electrical engineering. He also lettered in basketball, baseball and football at UNM. During that time, Vicente was given the nickname “Rocky” by the UNM athletic director Blanco White.  Because he had a background in both basketball and mathematics, he was hired in 1947 at Our Lady of Sorrows High School in Bernalillo, NM as a teacher and coach. He built a basketball team that, despite the school’s small size and lack of resources, won the District 3 championships three years in a row (1951, 1952, 1953). During this time he continued a semi-professional athletic career in Mexico, travelling to Cuba to play against the Harlem Globetrotters and to London to represent Mexico in the 1948 Olympics. He was the very first basketball coach at Valley High School, where he again taught mathematics. Although he loved teaching and athletics, Vicente chose to pursue a career as an engineer at Sandia National Laboratories. After retiring from Sandia, he had a very successful business career and founded several companies. He continued to be involved with athletics in various roles as a coach, educator and referee. He refereed high school championship games and also officiated numerous college football bowl games including the Peach, Japan, Fiesta, and Rose Bowls.

Though Vicente was known for athletics and his careers, what he cared most about and what gave him the most pride was his large family. He married Alice Hernandez in 1948, and together they had seven children. He lost his beloved Alice in 1974 to breast cancer. He later married Leonella Ortiz who had two children of her own, and then together they had one child.

Surrounded by family in his home, Vicente peacefully passed away on January 16, 2015.

Vicente will be remembered as a family man, mentor, coach and friend. He was recognized everywhere he went, and acclaimed for bringing victory to a school that did not at the time have an indoor basketball court. His family has always been especially gratified by the love shown to him by the people of Bernalillo, where he continues to be remembered as a hero. Vicente was also an avid golfer and a recognized figure in the local golfing community. He will be inducted into the New Mexico Sports Hall of Fame on March 1, 2015.

Vicente is survived by his loving and caring wife of 39 years, Leonella Arroyo, children Vince and Ruby Arroyo, Kathy and Eli Padilla, Sylvia and Rudy Nolasco, Bill and Joyce Arroyo, Aileen Arroyo, Carmen and Rick Trujillo, Andrew Arroyo, Chris and Sarah Arroyo, Martha Arroyo, Stephany and Jeffry Jones as well as 23 grandchildren, 8 great-grandchildren and 2 great-great-grandchildren. Additionally, he is survived by a large, extended family who live across the country. He is preceded in death by his parents, his brothers Ernesto and Hector Arroyo, his daughter Carmen Alicia Arroyo, his wife Alice Arroyo, his son Craig Anthony Arroyo and granddaughter Laura Kathleen Padilla.  

A rosary will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 20 at 7:00 pm at St. Jude Thaddeus Catholic Church, 5712 Paradise Blvd. NW, Albuquerque, NM 87114.  Funeral services will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 21 at 10:00 am, also at St. Jude Thaddeus Catholic Church.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Casa Esperanza, which supports families facing cancer, at PO Box 40472, Albuquerque, NM 87196-0472
to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central New Mexico at 3333 Truman St. NE, Albuquerque, NM 87110.

In an effort to collect memories, photos and stories about his life, please visit and contribute to his memorial website.

Because of his nomination to the NM Sports Hall of Fame, Vicente has recently been recognized in two local publications:

Duke City Fix

New Mexico Sports Hall of Fame