Beloved Los Alamos historian and author Dorothy Hoard has died. She passed away Monday at her Los Alamos home surrounded by family.
She and her husband Donald moved to Los Alamos in 1963 with their four children – and her degree in biochemistry from the University of California at Berkeley. She signed on with Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory in analytical chemistry once her children were in high school.
Hoard spent 10 years hiking up and down the canyons and mesas in Bandelier with friends from the Los Alamos Outdoor Association before writing her book, “A Guide to Bandelier National Monument.” In 1987, Hoard founded Friends of Bandelier and served as its president for 27 years.
“Dorothy was Bandelier’s Best Friend and someone who truly loved and invested in our landscape,” Bandelier Superintendent Jason Lott said. “Through her efforts, we have the Friends of Bandelier, the Bandelier Wilderness and multiple published books about the Monument. She was always the advocate for Bandelier at any and all public meetings. It is her footsteps that we follow when exploring the mesas and canyons of the Monument.”
Dorothy Hoard shares history details with participants who accompanied her on a nature work across historic Beanfield Mesa Oct. 27, 2012. Photo by Felicia Orth
Earth Day Chair Teralene Foxx of the Pajarito Environmental Education Center first met Hoard at UNM-Los Alamos more than 40 years ago when Hoard took a class Foxx was teaching. They remained close friends and coauthored Plants of the Southwestern Woodlands. Foxx said that life without Hoard will be a difficult adjustment for her.
“Dorothy had a great curiosity and love about the world and a love of history and a love of nature that she shared with everybody through her hikes and her books and drawings,” Foxx said. “She helped all of us be more aware of the things around us.”
Born in Carmel, Calif., Hoard’s love of mountains came from wandering the Big Sur country. From a young age, she followed “disappearing old roads to abandoned homestead fields and orchards.” She hiked around Los Alamos the area for some 50 years and gave innumerable guided tours, lectures and classes on the trails and nature.
Hoard and fellow Los Alamos Living Treasure Betty Lilienthal spent a decade together cataloging the Los Alamos County petroglyphs. In 1995 their book, Sentinels in Stone was published and White Rock Canyon and its art were given a place on the National Register of Historic Places. Hoard and Lilienthal received a Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation.
Like Hoard, Los Alamos County Administrator Harry Burgess is an avid hiker. He spoke of Hoard’s death saying, “We’re all saddened to hear of the passing of Ms. Hoard. She was very influential in many aspects of our community and will be greatly missed.”
Hoard wrote more books over the years including Los Alamos Outdoors and Historic Roads of Los Alamos as well as booklets on specialized subjects. She was part of a six-member group collectively known as the History Nuts, which included Judy Machen, Heather McClenahan, Janie O’Rourke, Georgia Strickfaden and Sharon Snyder. The group came together informally in 2003 to meet and share research. Though each person had a specific area of historical interest concerning Los Alamos and its surroundings, phases of the research done by each overlapped with that of the others. By sharing in open discussions, these historians found that their overall knowledge of the Pajarito Plateau expanded.
Hoard was long recognized for her knowledge of trails on the Pajarito Plateau as well as the lore associated with these sometimes prehistoric byways—the early travelers of the paths, nearby plants and petroglyphs, the surrounding geology, and associated historical references. She did research into the homestead era and recently gave support to the Los Alamos National Laboratory project documenting the homesteads and inhabitants who were uprooted by the Manhattan Project.
Los Alamos County Open Space Specialist Craig Martin spent many years learning much about local trails and nature from Hoard.
“Dorothy was the most important mentor of my adult life … I will miss her immensely,” Martin said.
Hoard’s family told the Los Alamos Daily Post that planning is underway for a community-wide celebration of her life later this month at the Bandelier Amphitheater, for which details will follow.
Los Alamos Historian Dorothy Hoard and County Open Space Specialist Craig Martin during the Grant Homestead Plaque installation at Guaje Pines in May 2012. File photo