Lillian F. Romero Senior Center

Taos Pueblo officials and the community turned out Saturday morning (July 28, 2018) to honor a determined powerhouse advocate for elders by naming the senior center after her.

The Lillian F. Romero Senior Center was dedicated to the woman who fought for the funds to build it.

“Lillian was quite a lady,” said Taos Pueblo Gov. Gilbert Suazo Sr. “She was a participant in our tribal way of life here. She raised a family here.”

“She was always a friendly person and she would always say what she thought,” continued Suazo, as some in the crowd chuckled at memories of the woman who refused to take no for an answer. “We were blessed with her.”

Romero’s long-term dream was to create an elder day-care and long-term living facility at the pueblo. She died in June 2017 before she could realize that dream, but those at the event said plans are underway to make such an elder care facility a reality.

Romero worked for the pueblo for 37 years, most of those as director of the senior center. She took seniors on trips, organized activities and ensured they had meals at the center. She devoted herself to the elderly and that was not an easy job, said the governor. “It takes patience and commitment,” Suazo said.

She lobbied the Taos Pueblo government and the state Legislature to raise the more than one million dollars needed to build a senior center complete with an exercise room, kitchen, dining area and a comfortable area to simply hang out and visit.

Speaker after speaker thanked the governor, other pueblo officials and the tribal council for dedicating the building to Romero’s memory.

“This center, this building, is the physical embodiment of one individual’s courage, strength, intelligence, wisdom and character,” said Ezra Bayles, the pueblo’s Health and Community Services director. “It is a monument to her service and to what she gave to the community.”

But she didn’t do it for accolades, he said. “She built this center as a sanctuary, a place to congregate, a place to socialize, a place to eat and a place for community,” he said.

“We care for our elders. We treat them with respect, honor, and dignity, because our wisdom comes from them. I have learned so much from them; day and night…I teach my staff that.” ~ Lillian Romero, Director, Taos Pueblo Senior Citizen Center