Gilberto Campa who worked at Carlsbad Caverns National Park from March 1991 – March 1996 passed away on January 20, 2011. Besides being our co-worker, he was our friend.
In an entry for a 1998 Employee Reunion Memory Book, Gilbert wrote,
I have been in the National Park Service twelve years. I started my career as a seasonal backcountry ranger at Guadalupe Mountains NP and became a permanent ranger at Jean Lafitte NHP and Preserve in New Orleans, Louisiana.
I was a Park Ranger at Carlsbad Caverns NP from March 1991 until March 1996. During my stay at the Caverns, I gave Bat Flight programs and conducted guided tours of the Kings Palace, Hall of the White Giant, Lower Cave, Left Hand Tunnel, Spider Cave, and Slaughter Canyon Cave.
Some of the older rangers recognized me in the cave because I always carried a lit candle lantern while roving the cave. Visitors would always stop me and ask if I was afraid of the dark or if I was looking for an honest woman. The lantern would always get their attention and gave me the opportunity to answer questions they might have.
I enjoyed my stay at Carlsbad and became better known for working on the idea of an "Adopt-A-Bat" program, starting in about 1993. This was an idea given to me by a visitor during one of the many Bat Flight programs I conducted. (Note: Gilberto’s efforts in making the “Adopt-a-Bat program” a reality and his promotion of it along with other rangers, resulted in the making of thousands of dollars for bat research and resulted in joy to an estimated 50,000+ children bat adopters to present—some of the information in this note supplied by caverns employee Paula Bauer.)
In 1996 I left the cave to come to Chamizal National Memorial in El Paso which commemorates the peaceful settlement of a 100 year old boundary dispute. I enjoy working here, but I left my heart in the CAVE
(pix: Gilberto with some friends, Bob, Lisa--1992 at the Caverns)
The following is from The El Paso Times:
CAMPA Gilberto Mena Campa, 64, of Fabens, Texas, passed away Thursday, January 20, 2011. He was born on April 1, 1946 in Fabens, Texas. Proudly served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War, and was a member of the VFW Post 10354 in Horizon City, Texas. Affectionately known as "Grandpa Red" to his grandchildren, as well as other nieces and nephews, he touched the hearts of many. All who knew him, couldn't help but love him. He is preceded in death by his parents, Leopoldo Campa and Angela Mena Campa, and his sisters, Consuelo Gardea, Elvira Cecilia Campa, and Lina Chacon. He is survived by his brother, Richard Campa, his children, Gilbert Anthony Campa, John Paul Campa, and Elizabeth Mendez, his 8 grandchildren, and numerous family and friends. "Grandpa Red", you will remain in our hearts eternally; we will always love you and miss you.
Some of the online comments about Gilbert from the El Paso Legacy.com page; names of contributors left off intentionally, unless included within the comment. Thanks to caverns employee Paula for the idea of consulting The El Paso Times obituary page:
**To you, my loving uncle, with all the love in my heart. I loved you dearly, and miss you very much. May God be with you. Watch over us and live within our hearts.
**I had the honor and pleasure of working with Gilbert in the National Park Service. My sympathies and condolences to those closest to him. He was a good man who will be missed.
**To the Campa Family,my thoughts and prayers are with you all. He will missed. He is now resting with my grandma Connie. They all will always be in our hearts forever.
**To: Campa Family I work with your dad for many yrs. at Chamizal.Gilberto was truly an American Hero,he served his country well in time of need. We have a saying in the (AIRBORNE CORP)HE HAS TAKEN HIS LAST JUMP,AND MAY HE HAVE A SOFT LANDING IN HEAVEN).
**Mike and I worked with Gilberto at Carlsbad Caverns. We also lived nearby in the NPS housing. We have many happy memories of Gilbert and he will be missed
**I always enjoyed Gilbert’s common sense wisdom, having coffee breaks with him, doing off trail tours and King’s palace tours with him, he was a interesting man to be with never a dull moment he always made me laugh, it is said to know he is gone but it makes me happy to know he is home now.
**I worked with Gilberto at Carlsbad Caverns. The time I best remember is when he taught me to make red enchilada sauce from scratch with a side of sangria punch. He always had a smile on his face and was a pleasure to work with. I’m so sorry for your loss.
**Sir, I would just like to say thank you for your service and sacrifice for our Country when you served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. And to your family and loved ones, I wish to extend my deepest sympathy
**My condolences to John, Paul and to the rest of Gilbert's family. I worked with Gilbert at Carlsbad Caverns National Park. He was a good man and a friend. He will be missed
**Sorry for your loss. I always enjoyed working with Gilbert there at Carlsbad Caverns especially on the off trail trips, I always thought of him as a gentleman’s gentleman.
**TO: The Campa family I had the pleasure of working with MR. Red Gilberto at Chamizal for many yrs. Being a Viet Nam Vet.he was truly an American hero.(ALL THE WAY). WE have a saying in the Airborne (He has taken his last jump and may he have a soft landing in heaven).
**Gilbert left a positive mark with whom ever knew him. He was loved and very much admired. See you in heaven Mr. Campa
**Take comfort in knowing that now you have a special guardian angel to watch over you
**Gilbert was a mentor, the first Park Ranger I ever met. I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to learn from him; always supportive, always patient. His passion for the National Park Service was evident - he cared so much for our heritage and worked hard to reach out to young people. He felt that the every student held the potential for great things, for deeper understanding. Gilbert was so proud of his family, always bragging about his kids and grandkids - their photos always prominently displayed on his desk. Thank you, Gilbert, for living your life to serve your family and your country.
**Gilberto and I worked together at Carlsbad Caverns from March 1991 until March 1996. My condolences to Gilberto's family. I remember him as a "kind" and "gentle" man with an ever-present sense of humor; he worked hard to help caverns visitors to enjoy their visit. May he rest in peace.
**My deepest condolences on the passing of Gilberto. He was a great addition to the Carlsbad Caverns family and I enjoyed working with him there. His smiling face will be missed by all of us who enjoyed it. Barbara and I send our thoughts and prayers for his family.
**Our deepest condolences. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all in your time of mourning. Red was a great man and we were blessed to have know and spent time with him. May god Bless you all!
**On behalf of the Sublasky Family,I send our condolences to Richard,and all of Gilberts sons.and daughter,and all the rest of the Campa family.Any time that you would run into Gilbert, no matter how long it had been since you had seen each other, you knew he was very happy to see you again, with that big smile of his. You knew that smile came from his heart.
Our Prayers and deepest condolences to all of the Campa Family!
**My deepest sympathy for your loss. My Tio Gilbert was a great man and he will be deeply missed. He will now be a angel watching over us. Take care and love you all.
**Condolences to the family of Gilbert from Barbara and Jason Richards, Cabrillo National Monument, San Diego California. Gilbert was a friend and fellow ranger at Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Gilbert will be missed.
Thanks to caverns employee Avelina for the 1992 picture. The picture of Gilberto in uniform appeared on The El Paso Times obituary page 1/26/11.