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Remembering a construction pioneer
Construction icon Joe I. Ulibarri died Saturday, May 5. He was 78.
Ulibarri was born in Tierra Amarilla, N.M. to mother Nativida and father Cipriano. He is one of eight brothers. He later moved to Alamosa on his own at the age of 14. He served in the U.S. Army from 1953-1955 serving his country in Korea.
In 1956, Ulibarri started his construction company, Ulibarri Construction, Inc. “It was not easy. The doors were not open to the Hispanic community, but I was always persistent,” Ulibarri told La Voz in an interview about his life’s work last year.
He achieved much success in the construction industry holding a Class A License and was registered with the federal government to work in several states. Among his many career achievements was serving as General Manager at Denver International Airport from 1986-1995.
Ulibarri is also remembered for his philanthropic work. Among his endeavors were with Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Denver and holding annual charity golf tournaments in its benefit. He also helped build many homes for those most in need in Alamosa.
Ernest J. Martinez, Sr., who worked with Ulibarri for 20 years as his chief estimator and operations manager, had some words to share. “Joe took great pride building within and outside the Hispanic community,” he said. “His favorite projects [that] he built were for Our Lady of Guadalupe’s parish hall and rectory, multiple elderly housing and family housing projects.”
Among the many projects that were built by Ulibarri, which Martinez recalled, were the Juanita Nolasco high-rise located at 9th and Utica, a couple of concourses at the then Stapleton International Airport and multiple projects with the Housing Authority in the cities of Denver, Boulder and Conejos and Costilla counties.
Ulibarri married his first wife, Andrea, on Jan. 21, 1956 and fathered three daughters Darlene, Margie and Connie and his late son David. Ulibarri married his wife Romelia in November 2002.
He was a respected member of the Denver Latino community and was so esteemed that he had the opportunity to visit the White House and meet with several former U.S. presidents including Ronald Reagan and George Bush.
Ulibarri is survived by his wife, daughters, brothers (Willie, Raymond, Felix and Richard Ulibarri), grandchildren (Aspen, JJ, Burke (late), Andrea, Isaac, Billy, Nichole, Matthew, Ashley and Emily) and nine great-grand children.
Funeral services are pending.
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