It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved husband, father, and grandfather Joseph (Joe) Raul Esquibel, who died at the family home on April 2, 2021. Joe was born in Denver, Colorado, on March 21, 1944, to the late HiPolito and Maria Esquibel (Mares). He graduated from Englewood High School in 1960 and went on to study at Regis College, where he graduated with a B.A. in History and Education in 1964. He then joined VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America whose mission was to fight poverty in America) and was stationed in southern New Mexico, where he met his future wife, Jean Olsen, who was also a VISTA volunteer. They shared a passion for social justice and civil rights, and they later moved to Washington D.C. and were married in 1967.
Joe’s ‘straight job,’ as he would say, was in government. He started his time in Washington at the Department of Labor focusing on discrimination and took classes at Georgetown University until he was drafted into the Army in 1969. After a two-year enlistment, he and Jean returned to Washington D.C. in 1971. He became one of the earliest employees of the new Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (E.E.O.C.) and completed his Masters in Latin American Studies at Georgetown. The E.E.O.C. was a good fit for Joe, who was passionate about seeking justice for all working Americans. Joe also was served a term as a congressional fellow in the House of Representatives, focusing on social justice initiatives. Also, during their time in the Washington area, Joe and Jean welcomed Mark (1974) and Adelina (1980). In 1982 they moved their family back to the Denver area (Littleton) to be closer to their extended family.
Once back in Denver, Joe volunteered with Kairos Prison Ministries, which sponsors interfaith Christian outreach to prisoners and their families. In 1992, Joe, always a devoted Catholic, began his journey to becoming a Santero (an artist who creates (typically carved) religious artifacts in the Southern Colorado/Northern New Mexico Catholic tradition). In 1995 Joe took an early retirement from the E.E.O.C. to focus on his art full time. As he progressed in his new career, Joe focused on outreach and education of the Santero tradition presenting at numerous museums and libraries across the state and was very active in the development of the Denver Santero community. His work is displayed in multiple churches in Colorado and New Mexico and at the Vatican, and the Vance Kirkland Museum in Denver. Joe was also a docent at the Denver Art Museum for over 20 years specializing in bi-lingual tours of the Latin American galleries, where he also gave demonstrations of his art. In retirement, Joe also was awarded a fellowship in Interfaith Understanding from Denver University, which led to a study abroad opportunity at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
Joseph was preceded in death by his father HiPolito, his mother Maria de Jesus Esquibel (Mares), and his sisters Kathy Wilson, Helen Thomas, and Virginia Brandon.
Joe is survived by his loving wife Jean, his son Mark and granddaughter Chloe, daughter Adelina and her husband Chris, his brothers Antonio, Herman, and HiPolitio, his sisters Sadie Medina, Viola Vigil, Beatrice Evans, Linda Esquibel, Betty Esquibel, and Susan DeHerrera and dozens of nieces and nephews.
Viewing and visitation will be on Tuesday, April 13, 2021 from 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM with a Committal service to follow at 1:30 PM at Ft. Logan National Cemetery. (staging area "B").
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations my be made to the following in Jose's name and memory: Saint Ignatius of Loyola Church https://loyoladenver.org/donate/ or to Regis University https://www.regis.edu/give-to-regis/
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