Land commissioner reflects on Domenici's last working months

Morgan Aguilar
September 13, 2017 06:18 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Less than a year ago, retired Sen. Pete Domenici decided to take on a new job as an adviser to State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn.


"The reason why he picked the Land Office to come and help is he liked our goal," Dunn said. "Education and creating income for education in New Mexico, and then land and water issues and policy issues. It kind of stayed in something he liked about our state so he wanted to give back."

Domenici stepped into the role 10 years after being diagnosed with a degenerative brain disease. In a 2008 interview with C-SPAN, Domenici described it as a "very serious brain impediment or ailment that is even worse than Alzheimer's."

Domenici said there is no cure, and no way to tell how quickly things could take a turn for the worse.

"He spoke at a Republican function, I think in May or April, and he was still sharp," Dunn said. "So age catches up with all of us but his mind was good all the way through."

His family said Domenici recently had abdominal surgery and was in intensive care in Albuquerque when he passed away.

"I think his body failed him before his mind did," Dunn said.

Dunn met Domenici when he was a teenager, and they became family friends because Dunn’s father, Aubrey Dunn Sr., served as a New Mexico senator for 15 years.

"I think the thing that stands out to me is he cared about the people of New Mexico," Dunn said. "He cared about jobs, he cared about the military and keeping our country safe, and he cared about, just people in general."


Morgan Aguilar

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