Here’s how it went during John Lee Stump’s military burial Tuesday at Santa Fe National Cemetery.
Not only did the Santa Fean and Army veteran receive military honors, but members of the Santa Fe Fire Department honored his many years as a firefighter by hoisting a huge American flag on one from their truck ladders.
And then Mother Nature stepped in to help, breaking through the storm clouds to let the sun shine on her service.
“It was God saying, ‘I’m going to stop the rain for your daddy,'” one of Stump’s daughters, Marcia Stump, said.
Her father died at his Santa Fe home of natural causes on March 22. He was 88 years old.
Stump is gone, but he was one of those people whose heart, soul, mind, and handprints remain in Santa Fe. As a contract and municipal engineer, he helped design St. Francis Drive and parts of Hyde Park Road.
He was also instrumental in transporting an old locomotive from the Santa Fe Railroad Yard to Salvador Perez Park in 1959. The train attracts visitors trying to figure out what it’s doing in a downtown park.
In a 2010 interview with The New Mexican, Stump said: “Our company carried out all the work on the site, including digging a deep pit for its foundation. The Santa Fe Railroad built a branch line to Penn Road so we could get the train to the park. But we still faced the hurdle of getting the train across at St. Francis Drive, and we used a rasp and several earth-moving tractors to get the train in place.
His family roots are also deeply embedded in the soil of the region’s history. His great-great-grandfather, Felipe Delgado, served as the first Superintendent of Indian Affairs in the New Mexico Territory in the 1860s.
Locally, his great-grandfather, Genaro Digneo, worked on the construction of the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi and the Loretto Chapel in the 1800s.
Stump was proud of his heritage and his work in the city, but rarely bragged about it, his children said.
“He didn’t want to be somebody famous,” Marcia Stump said. “He wanted to contribute to the greater good of the community.”
John Lee Stump was born on May 4, 1933, in Santa Fe. His father was a farmer and auto mechanic, but when young Stump told his father he wanted to follow in his footsteps, he became discouraged.
“I don’t want you working with your hands,” her father told her. “I want you to work with your mind.”
Stump joined the military during the Korean War and received an honorable discharge before his term ended, following a training accident involving chemical mustard gas that poisoned him, his son Richard says. stump.
This accident did not slow him down. He earned an engineering degree and began to build a career, first at the independent contractor level and then at the city and state level, which lasted until the mid-1990s, a said Richard Stump.
Because his father was a volunteer firefighter, John Lee Stump became one too, serving from 1960 to 1974. His children remember how, when he got a call, he jumped into a 1960 pickup truck, filled with sirens and flashing lights, with the kids in the cab and a howling dog in the bed, and headed to the scene of the fire.
“We would be embarrassed because everyone would be staring at us,” her daughter Deborah Stump said.
This volunteer work came at a price, his children remember, as too often he was tasked with carrying dead children away from fire sites. As a result, he emphasized safety and caution, teaching those he loved how to get out of a burning house and imparting other safety practices. His survival motto was, “You gotta be tough as nails!” said Richard Stump.
John Lee Stump met his wife, Martha Rodriguez — whom he called ‘Mart’ — in Santa Fe in the 1950s when she was a waitress at a drive-in restaurant and he pulled up in her vehicle to have a soda. She was so smitten with him that she knocked him down on her lap. It was love at first sight for Coca-Cola, the Stump children said.
She died over a decade ago. But twice in the days leading up to his death, Stump asked his daughter Marcia if “Mart” was in the bedroom as he lay in bed.
“I can’t see her, but she’s here with you,” her daughter told her. “She is waiting for you.”
John Lee Stump, an outdoor enthusiast who loved dogs, is survived by several grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nephews, nieces and in-laws.
“I miss talking to him every day,” Deborah Stump said Wednesday.
And then, laughing, she remembered that after calling him, he always asked her: “How is your dog? Put him on the phone.