UNM-LA Executive Director Cedric Page, left, applauds as Terry Wallace and his sister Janice Wallace Parra cut the ribbon on the wall plaque at the front of Jeanette O. Wallace Hall. Wallace’s wife, Michele Hall, left, and niece Caitlin Parra, and off camera Sheryl (Wallace) Crabtree and her daughter Nicole Crabtree look on. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Terry Wallace speaks to the crowd gathered to honor his mother, Rep. Jeannette Wallace, featured on the film behind him, during the dedication of Jeannette O. Wallace Hall Sunday. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
By Bonnie J. Gordon
Jeannette O. Wallace Hall on the UNM-Los Alamos campus was dedicated Sunday, Jan. 13, honoring Wallace for her service to the Los Alamos community and her tireless commitment to education.
Wallace died from illness in April 2011. She was serving her 11th term as a New Mexico State Representative, which she had won at the age of 76.
Since 1991, Wallace served New Mexico District 43, which covers Los Alamos, Sandoval and Santa Fe counties.
She was a member of the powerful House Appropriations and Finance Committee as well as the Health and Government Affairs Committee and the Printing and Supplies Committee.
Wallace had previously served on the Los Alamos County Council and was one of the co-founders of the Leadership Los Alamos program.
UNM-LA Executive Director Dr. Cedric Page welcomed the audience and introduced Linda Hull who spoke on behalf of the UNM-LA Advisory Board.
“Like many of you, I knew our state representative by her first name with no title attached. She was Jeannette, a powerhouse in the Roundhouse, where I met with her personally on several occasions to discuss proposed changes in school funding formulas,” Hull said. “She was a strong advocate for education, which is why it is so fitting that this new lecture hall on our college campus should be given her name. This hall has already witnessed engaging lectures, lively discussions, collaborative projects, board meetings, and award ceremonies for our most accomplished students.”
Hull told the audience of some 60 people gathered for Sunday’s event that education was always an important part of Wallace’s life. She was a graduate in medical technology from Arizona State University, and as a mother of five, was an active homeroom mother and Sunday school teacher.
“Issues, including education, in her beloved Northern New Mexico drew her to the Los Alamos County Council and then the New Mexico State Legislature,” Hull said. “Today, we celebrate the spirit of her long and meaningful legacy. Jeannette was undeniably a pillar of our community; it is only fitting that the brick and mortar of this lecture hall should bear her name.”
Also speaking at the dedication ceremony, former New Mexico Sen. Steve Stoddard pointed out that Wallace served in the New Mexico House of Representatives for 28 years, the longest serving representative from Los Alamos.
“Jeannette didn’t run with the herd. She did what she thought was right and usually, she was correct,” Stoddard said. “The New Mexico Legislature is not too friendly to education in Los Alamos … Jeannette was dedicated to education and she fought hard for it. That commitment is epitomized by this dedication.”
Speaking on behalf of the board of Leadership Los Alamos, Michael Wismer told the audience that Wallace was a founding member of the organization, which now has more than 300 graduates.
“She put her blood and sweat into our by-laws,” Wismer said.
Dr. Terry Wallace spoke on behalf of the Wallace family and said that community education was very important to his mother.
“My mother’s parents did not support her aspirations to go to college,” Wallace said. “She held down four jobs to pay her own way through college and rode the bus to the local campus,” Wallace said. “She believed everyone in New Mexico should have opportunity. UNM-LA is our community’s source for higher education—just a bus ride away.”
Wallace and his sister Janice Wallace Parra cut the ribbon on the wall plaque at the front of Jeanette O. Wallace Hall together with his wife Michele Hall, sister Sheryl (Wallace) Crabtree and his nieces Nicole Crabtree and Caitlin Parra.
Don Casperson, president of the Los Alamos Kiwanis Club, announced that the Wallace family has established a scholarship in the name of Jeannette O. Wallace to be award through the club annually. Wallace became a Kiwanis Club member in 1988.
Dr. Page thanked the audience for attending Sunday’s event and said, “We’re so honored to dedicate this space on behalf of all of our students, from the very young to folks my age.”
Rep. Jeannette Wallace’s family from left, daughter-in-law Michelle Hall, daughters Janice Wallace Parra and Sheryl (Wallace) Crabtree and granddaughters Nicole Crabtree and Caitlin Parra listen as Wallace’s son, Terry Wallace speaks about his mother during Sunday’s dedication ceremony. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Board Member Linda Hull spoke on behalf of the UNM-LA Advisory Board of the strong advocacy Rep. Jeannette Wallace exhibited toward education. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Community leader Michael Wismer spoke of Rep. Jeannette Wallace’s lasting impact on the local Leadership Los Alamos program. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Retired State Sen. Steve Stoddard speaks of his longtime friend Rep. Jeannette Wallace. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
UNM-LA Executive Director Cedric Page at Sunday’s dedication event. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Los Alamos Superintendent of Schools Dr. Gene Schmidt speaks of Rep. Jeannette Wallace and her many contributions to the community. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
The wall plaque now greets people who enter the newly dedicated Jeannette O. Wallace Hall on the UNM-LA campus. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com