Mike Guttierez, of Solomon, peacefully rode his horse off into the sunset on Dec. 20, 2019. He was surrounded by his wife, children, and grandchildren. Mike is survived b his wife of 32 years, Ruth; four daughters, Flora (Robert) Aguilar, Catalina (Stuart) Guttierez, Roberta Frederick, Reba Blount; and two sons, Michael (Bridget) Guttierez and Jeffery (Sarah) Guttierez; 17 grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren, and three great-great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his 98-year-old sister, Teresa Dominguez, and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Mike was employed by Big Ranch, the Morris Brothers, Michelena’s Store, and owned the Hideaway Store. He then went to work for Gila Valley Irrigation in 1968 and retired in 2000. Mike was a ‘paid -for-life” member of the American Legion Post 32 in Safford.
Mike rode horses for most of his life. He broke horses at a younger age, became a team roper and enjoyed attending rodeos and horse races. In his earlier years, Mike would have breakfast with his parents, except when he was gone for WWII. He could often be found playing pool and darts with family and friends. When the music began to play, Mike would begin two-stepping to his favorite country music.
In 1943, Mr. Claridge helped keep Mike at home, being the only son, when the military tried to draft him into the Army. When the military sent Mike his draft notice the next year, Mr. Claridge again tried to intervene, but Mike told him “No, I have to serve my country.” In May of 1944, Mike went to Fort MacArthur to begin his duty as an infantryman in the U.S. Army. While serving in Germany under General Patton, he earned a Combat Infantry Badge, European African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, Good Conduct Medal, and Victory Medal. Mike also earned two battle stars while serving in WWII. Mike often talked about how General Patton was known as “blood and guts.” While serving in Germany, Mike was captured and held as a Prisoner of War for two days until he and a fellow soldier managed to escape. Mike was able to kill a German Sniper, who had killed his fellow soldier. From fellow soldiers and friends, Mike somehow earned the nickname “Sleepy.” After a fellow soldier was killed in combat, Mike brought his personal property back to the waiting Escalante family. The Escalante family had lost all three sons in WWII but gained a friend with getting to know Mike.
Mike was preceded in death by his parents, Miguel and Francisca Guttierez, and grandson, Landis Frederick.
A viewing will be held Monday, Jan. 6, 2020, at the McDougal’s Caldwell Funeral Chapel, beginning at 3 p.m., followed by the Recitation of the Rosary at 5 p.m. The Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 7, at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, beginning at 10 a.m., with interment following in the San Jose Cemetery.
Arrangements are under the direction of McDougal’s Caldwell Funeral Chapel & Gila Valley Crematory. Online condolences may be extended at www.caldwellfuneralchapel.com.