ROCKY FORD – Law enforcement officers from across Colorado and even some from New Mexico joined their counterparts in the Lower Arkansas Valley Wednesday to remember Frank Gallegos, 68, who died unexpectedly on Christmas Eve due to a sudden severe illness.
Gallegos, who was just two weeks away from retirement, was remembered for a lifetime of public service across the valley, most recently as Bent County Undersheriff, a position he served in for the past three years. Prior to that, he spent decades with the Rocky Ford Police Department, serving as the department’s longtime Chief.
A funeral for Gallegos was held Wednesday morning at Our Lady of Guadalupe / St. Patrick Parish in La Junta, followed by a procession to Hillcrest Cemetery in Rocky Ford and a reception afterward at the Gobin Building near the Rocky Ford police station.
“It just kind of breaks my heart,” said Bent County Sheriff David Encinias. “He was a really good friend of mine. We worked together for many years and we would console in each other, so I’ll miss him because he was a good man.”
According to Gallegos’ obituary, which includes an 11-minute tribute video, he was born in Rocky Ford and spent his entire life in the Lower Arkansas Valley, except to attend Trinidad Junior College and to serve three tours in Vietnam with the U.S. Navy. Encinias says he began working with Gallegos at the Rocky Ford Police Department in the early 1980s and developed a strong friendship with him, eventually bringing him on as Undersheriff in Bent County following his retirement from RFPD. He says Gallegos’ death leaves a tremendous void across the valley. All of Gallegos’ surviving relatives live in either Rocky Ford or Colorado Springs, according to his obituary.