Aztec will remember the 1960s

Aztec Museum and Pioneer Village will celebrate Founders Day on Saturday

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times
Aztec Museum Director Jordan Taher talks about the theme of this year's Aztec Founders Day event, Friday, Sept. 8, 2017 at the Aztec Museum and Pioneer Village in Aztec.
  • The Sandel family will be honored as pioneers of the year during Founders Day

AZTEC — Aztec Museum and Pioneer Village will return to the 1960s during the annual Founders Day celebration on Sept. 16.

The event began in 1984 as a way to recognize people who have made significant contributions to Aztec. Founders Day will kick off at 10 a.m. with a parade and will continue until 2 p.m. at the museum, 125 N. Main Ave.

"I think Founders Day recognizes life in Aztec, how it's changed," said Jimmy Miller, the museum board's president.

The 1960s followed a decade of rapid growth in Aztec. Miller said the U.S. Census reported about 800 residents in 1950. By 1960, the census data showed Aztec at approximately the same size it is today.

Aztec Museum and Pioneer Village in Aztec is pictured on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017.

The 1960s was also a time of volunteerism and community-oriented attitudes in Aztec. In 1963 the city was awarded the "All American City" recognition after residents volunteered and donated money to build a road between Aztec and the community of Navajo Dam. Miller said the 19-mile road took less than four months to complete.

The museum will also honor the Sandel family for their contributions to the city, as well as to San Juan County.

In 1964, Jerry Sandel and his parents, Wayne and Sally Sandel, opened Aztec Well Servicing. The company may be the largest private well servicing company in the United States, Jerry Sandel said Friday during a phone interview.  

Jerry Sandel said the company has operators Pennsylvania, Texas and southern New Mexico.

Leonard Trujillo, brother-in-law of Patsy Chavez, talks with a friend during Founders Day on Saturday Sept. 17, 2016, at the Aztec Museum & Pioneer Village. Patsy and her husband, Abe Chavez, were designated Pioneers of the Year at the event.

While the company operates in major oil and natural gas areas throughout the country, Jerry Sandel said his family is committed to keeping the headquarters in Aztec.

"This is still our home," he said.

In the 1970s, Jerry Sandel decided to give back to the community that supported his family's company. He was elected to the New Mexico House of Representatives in 1971 and served as a state representative until 2000. In 2002 he ran as the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor.

Jerry Sandel passed down his interest in giving back to the community through public service to his son, Jason Sandel, who served on Farmington City Council from 2006 until 2014.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.

Boy Scouts of America Troop 325 and Cub Scouts Pack 325 were out serving lemonade and Fritos Chili Pie during Founders Day on Saturday Sept. 17, 2016, at the Aztec Museum & Pioneer Village. From left are: Colby Smith, 9, Barrett Smith, 12, Jacob Costen, 9, and Zachary Shaw, 9.
Curtis and Sybil Brown brought their 1957 Hudson Hornet to show on Founders Day on Saturday Sept. 17, 2016, at the Aztec Museum & Pioneer Village.
Memorabilia from the 1950s and 60s donated by Aztec Museum board member Dana Reed for this year's Founders Day event is on display on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017 at the Aztec Museum and Pioneer Village in Aztec.