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Rubén Cobos

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Memories & Candles

“I was privileged to have been a student in Dr. Ruben Cobos' 300 level Spanish class in the early 1970's. He was dynamic and witty. In order to make...Read More »
1 of 17 | Posted by: Cheryl Hargroves - Farmington, NM

“I just learned of Mr. Cobos passing and I can only wish I had seen him to say hello and to hear his stories or to ask me if I know the meaning of a...Read More »
2 of 17 | Posted by: Diana B. Chavez - Albuquerque, NM

“Dr Ruben Cobos is a model of the power of a Menaul School education, a love of learning and real ambition can creat in an individual. He truly took...Read More »
3 of 17 | Posted by: Lindsey Gilbert - Albuquerque, NM

“I feel priviledged to have known Dr. Cobos in our local McDonalds where he and his wife, Vera, and I and my friend Bert Trujillo often had coffee in...Read More »
4 of 17 | Posted by: Ms. Pat Manaster - Albuquerque, NM

“The last time i saw my grandpa i had bought his book and he told me to come over so he could sign it. so my wife and i went over. we had a great time...Read More »
5 of 17 | Posted by: steve cobos - grandson

“I had the good fortune to study under Professor Cobs as an undergraduate in the 1960s then again as agraduate student in the late sixties and early...Read More »
6 of 17 | Posted by: Dr. Erlinda Gonzqles-Berry - OR

“We have delightful and fond memories of Uncle Ruben. When he married my Aunt Vera, we learned to roll the R at the beginning of his name and place...Read More »
7 of 17 | Posted by: Olga Anson - Colorado Springs, CO

“Profesor Cobos, usted era lo mejor de lo mejor. One of the best professors that I ever had. We will never forget him. He was my professor at some...Read More »
8 of 17 | Posted by: Susan Lester - Albuquerque, NM

“Like my brother Sean Salaz, I was not given the opportunity to visit my Grandfather as much as I would have liked. I will always remember Grandpa...Read More »
9 of 17 | Posted by: Chris Salaz - Grandson

“Professor Cobos was an encouragement and inspiration during my years as a UNM undergraduate student in the late 1960s. He was an excellent educator...Read More »
10 of 17 | Posted by: Judge John Romero - Albuquerque, NM

“My father Ruben Cobos, was one of the most talented, learned and remarkable people that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. He was a loving...Read More »
11 of 17 | Posted by: Renee Cobos - His Daughter

“Our condolences to the Cobos family on the passing of one of New Mexico's giants. We at LPD Press and Rio Grande Books were most proud to be able to...Read More »
12 of 17 | Posted by: Paul Rhetts - Los Ranchos, NM

“My dad, Dr. Ruben Cobos, gifted me with all the talents that I possess. Among these are my ability to write and to sing. He also gifted me with a...Read More »
13 of 17 | Posted by: Evelia Cobos - Rio Rancho, NM

“Our condolences to the Cobos family. We are proud to publish Dr. Cobos' book Dictionary of New Mexico & Colorado Spanish, a "classic" reference used...Read More »
14 of 17 | Posted by: Anna Gallegos - Santa Fe, NM

“Although I was not given the opportunity to visit my Grandfather as much as I would have liked, I will always remember his warmth, singing voice, and...Read More »
15 of 17 | Posted by: Sean Salaz - Allen, TX - Grandson

“Psalms 91:14-16 (KJV) 14 Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name....Read More »
16 of 17 | Posted by: Rev. Valentine Vit - NJ

“On behalf of the French Family of Companies, we express our deepest condolences. ”
17 of 17 | Posted by: Dante Gutierrez-Zamora


COBOS - Internationally renowned scholar, linguist and folklorist Rubén Cobos, passed away peacefully at the age of 99 years and eleven days at his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, surrounded by his family on Monday, November 22, 2010. He will be mourned by his family, friends and the thousands of students that he taught in his lifetime. Born in Coahuila, México on November 11, 1911, he had recently celebrated his 99th birthday with his family including his wife of 56 years, Elvira Cobos, his daughter Dr. Renee Cobos and her husband Dr. Robert Rosenberg, grandchildren, Jordan and Sabrina Rosenberg from California, his son Marcelino Cobos, his nieces Olga Anson and Henrietta Roudabush, and nephew Ventura Ruybal. He came to the United States at the young age of 7 after his father had died. His mother, Dolores “Lola” Medina de Cobos relocated the family to San Antonio, Texas, and finally to Albuquerque, New Mexico. His mother worked as a seamstress in a laundry and even though he was only a young lad of 7, she needed Ruben to help support the family. He provided food for his family by working before and after school with the milkman, the baker and the butcher. In exchange for sweeping the sidewalk in front of their stores, or helping deliver milk in the early hours of the morning before school, he would be given leftover bread, milk and meat for his family. He realized very early on that it would be only through education that he would be able to make a better life for himself and his family. He earned scholarships and worked as a cook in the cafeteria in order to attend Menaul High School in Albuquerque, New Mexico. When he graduated from Menaul, his mother had a job for him in the laundry where she was a seamstress, but Ruben had other plans. His dream was to go to college. When he told his mother of his dream, she answered “Con que dinero?” (with what money?). With no funds to his name, he approached Dr. Zimmerman, then the president of the University of New Mexico, and told him that he would do any type of work if he could only study at the University. Dr. Zimmerman was moved by his story and in exchange for full tuition, he cleaned the dorms, mowed grass, cleaned windows, and did whatever else was needed in order to earn his education. He graduated with honors from University of New Mexico with a Master’s Degree in Spanish and taught in public schools in rural New Mexico. But that was only the beginning of what was to be a lifelong love of learning. He attended Stanford University in Palo Alto, California and received his Doctor of Letters from that institution. He taught at the University of New Mexico for more than forty years (1936-1976), and held teaching positions at Stanford University, the University of Nevada, Colorado College, and Highlands University. At the time of his death, he was a Professor Emeritus at both the University of New Mexico and Stanford University. His mastery of English, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese and German enabled him to serve in WWII as a consultant and translator in the US Office of Censorship after graduating from the Military Intelligence Training Center at Camp Ritchie, Maryland. Following his military involvement, he had a nascent career in Opera as a tenor and appeared in productions as a guest soloist with the Albuquerque Civic Opera, and the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra. As a teenager in Albuquerque, he was intrigued by and began documenting the regional variations of spoken Spanish. This was to become his work of a lifetime. Dr. Cobos began recording Indo-Hispanic folklore material in the early 1940s. With the co-operation of the common country folk: the villagers, farmers, sheepherders, the hard working people in the small towns throughout New Mexico and Southern Colorado and the assistance of his students, he gathered personal interviews, local ballads, games and songs, folktales, jokes, home remedies, recipes, proverbs, riddles and accounts of witchcraft from them. He also drew on items from literary works touching on New Mexico history, custom, and cultural history. His research spanned seventy-five years of direct contact with the Spanish spoken in the towns and villages of the upper Rio Grande and Southern Colorado. The Cobos Collection contains pieces of history which would have been lost forever, if not for his dedication. His numerous books and collections were the work of a lifetime of learning. He wrote, edited and co-edited hundreds of articles and several books. His articles have appeared in the New Mexico Historical Review, El Nuevo Mexicano, the New Mexico Folklore record, the Santa Fe New Mexican, and the Albuquerque Journal amongst many others. His most well known works, Refranes: Southwestern Spanish Proverbs (MNM Press) and A Dictionary of New Mexico and Southern Colorado Spanish, published by the Museum of New Mexico Press in Santa Fe have been continuously in use since their first publication in 1973 and 1983 respectively. They have become classic Spanish references, widely used in classrooms and by Spanish speakers in the Southwest and throughout the United States. The Rubén Cobos Collection of Spanish New Mexican Folklore is a sound archive containing over 2000 pieces, including ballads, poems, prayers, nursery rhymes, riddles, proverbs, stories, personal narratives, songs, instrumental music, and descriptions of social customs, ritual practices, and children's games. The recordings were made between 1944 and 1974 in Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado. Music in the Rubén Cobos Collection of Spanish New Mexican Folklore, is archived in the Colorado College library and several other U.S. libraries including the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. His most recent areas of study and lecture materials regarded the hidden Jews who emigrated to New Mexico from Spain in the 16th century were a work in progress. He received multiple honors and awards in his lifetime including: The National Folk Festival Award, and election to the New Mexico Folklore Hall of Fame.

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