Albert Phillip Bach went to be with our Lord on Sunday, September 15th, 2019. It is understood that Albert, having had a favorite sign that read “If Heaven Don’t Have Horses, I Ain’t Going”, found that his brothers Emil Jr. (III) and James, along with his father, Emil, Sr., had one saddled for him to take a family ride together to meet with Jesus. Albert was born in Artesia, New Mexico, June 13th, 1934 to Emil, Sr. (II) and Mae (Vogel) Bach, joining brothers aforementioned and sister Evelyn. They lived a hard-working and simple life along both sides of the Pecos River east of Artesia, where they both farmed and ranched. They owned some of the oldest water rights in NM, even preceding statehood. The family were members of the Emmanuel Baptist Church on West Main St. for many years.
Albert attended school in Artesia and graduated from Artesia High in 1952. As a child, he later said, he wore overalls, and he often hid the overall straps because he wished they were jeans. During school years in Artesia, he was active in FFA and many other activities, including horses and rodeo. He loved showing animals, and a favorite picture shows him with the 1950’s-style very short-legged Herefords of popularity at the time. To the end, he wore boots and jeans and a snap-up western shirt every day; his favorite was ostrich, and he recently got a very favorite pair of black, cowboy-heeled boots he was very fond of. A lifetime farmer and rancher, he was the very first State Farmer from the Artesia Chapter of the FFA.
He attended college in Portales and also in Las Cruces, where he graduated from NM A&M College with a bachelor’s degree in education in 1956, and later, he completed a master’s degree as well (ENMU). After graduation from NM A&M (now NMSU), he was drafted into the U.S. Army and he served a career as an officer (Air Defense Artillery), served on the command staff of the NMANG, eventually operating NM’s OCS Academy, commanding the 4th Battalion, NMANG, and serving nationally as a board member of the Selective Service System. He retired as an O7 Brigadier General. A favorite story was that he attended boot camp at Fort Hood, Texas with Elvis Presley, and he also told stories of commanding the units that entered the NM State Prison and stopped the 1980 riots and of firing exercises on WSMR and McGregor Range (Fort Bliss). He had many, many fond friends from his years in the Army and NMANG.
During his time in the military, he had a dual career in public education and taught both middle school and elementary school (being a second generation beekeeper, he had a functioning beehive and bees in his classroom for the students to see, with a tube to the outside). He was also an administrator and was elementary principal to many hundreds of children, including his own two, at Abo Elementary, an underground school where he said “I operated the only school anyplace where we let the kids play on the roof”. In education, he made many, many friends and influenced literally thousands of students. During these years, he purchased a ranch west of Artesia on Eagle Draw and leased others, ranching for many years, raising Brangus and Angus-Plus cattle and selling bulls all over the state and western U.S. Also during this time, he volunteered, then was hired and worked for the NRCS in Roswell and Artesia, putting his original degree in Agriculture Education back to work to assist farmers and ranchers with their management and conservation efforts.
He was an avid hunter, taking many trips (and many people) to hunt for mule deer and pronghorn antelope and the many exotic species that are part of the NM landscape, especially the Barbary Sheep. He had trophies of the Barbaries (including a full body mount at his home on the ranch) and also Oryx and Ibex. Some of his happiest times were ranching in the Picacho Valley (where he had Barbary Sheep) and also between Mayhill and Pinon, on Miller Flats. He fulfilled a lifelong dream of building his own place at the Eagle Ranch west of Artesia and lived there for several years. He really enjoyed ranching and hunting with many, many friends, often seen around Artesia with his dogs Zipper and Belle. Many, many stories of hunts are cherished memories he's passed on.
Albert was married to Wilma Rae (Friesen) Bach for nearly 60 years (1960), and is survived by her and children Joel P. Bach and wife Mikka of Fredericksburg, Texas, and Tracy Christine Bach-Isgitt of Artesia. He is survived by two loving grandsons, Garrison P. and Sebastian P. Bach of Fredericksburg, who spent 8 of their most important growing years with him every day, asking to go to his house after school, where they read, told stories, and watched TV (Spurs and Rangers) together. He attended many, many football, soccer, and baseball games with them and found happy times in visiting ranches and deer leases with family and family dog Mercedes. He is also survived by his sister, Evelyn Coughenour of Alamogordo, NM and her daughters Cindy (Payne) and Cathy (McCord) and their families. He is also survived by three sister-in-laws and their children and extended families.
Albert’s request was that there be no funeral at the time of his death nor any flowers or other perishable plants. He said "Plant a tree; it takes planting one to have one." His favorites were pecans and desert willows. Family wishes for others to be able to comment, web-wise, on their good times together through Terpening and Sons, Artesia, or Schaetter’s Funeral Home in Fredericksburg, Texas. Anyone wishing to contribute to funded memorials can contact the Artesia FFA, as it was an important part of his formative years and the Artesia schools were his longtime employer (contact Rhea Lynn Kaufman with the Artesia FFA Partners). He also supported new efforts for on-line teaching of agriculture to students who attend schools too small for full-scale agriculture education programs (contact his son, Joel Bach, at firstname.lastname@example.org).
Plans for a gathering for the dedication of a monument for Albert in Woodbine Cemetery in Artesia will be shared at a later date through announcement and contact with family, where longtime friends and family members can gather in tribute to a great man gone to see Jesus, “a-horseback”.
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