Bill Sapien, a former Sandoval County Commission chairman and highly respected member of the community, died last weekend, his family confirmed. He was 86.
His son, former state Sen. John Sapien, on Tuesday said the family was mourning their loss and no funeral services had been arranged by that time.
Bill Sapien was revered by many while serving as a county commissioner during a period of explosive growth, representing the eastern end of the county.
The Placitas Community Library recognizes Sapien for his efforts to help fund expansion of the building.
“Many of us consider him a godfather to the library,” says the library’s webpage describing its history.
In addition to serving as a county commissioner, Sapien was active with the Sandoval County Historical Society, even serving a 2 ½ year stint as its president,
Edition’s of the historical society’s quarterly newsletter, El Cronicon, give a glimpse into his life.
He came to New Mexico in 1957, rather than attend college in Greeley, Colo., according to an article in El Cronicon’s December 2014 edition. He had been on the finance committee at Our Lady of Sorrows church for 20 years and had watched many games at the gymnasium there.
The article doesn’t give the year, but he married his wife Miranda, a Bernalillo High School graduate, when gas prices were 25 cents a gallon.
An article from a 2017 edition said he felt the historical society was an integral part of the community and “that we should always keep our forebearers active in our mind.”
In 2007, Sapien was appointed by then-Gov. Bill Richardson as the first chairman of the Eastern Sandoval County Arroyo Flood Control Authority. He resigned the next year, saying he wanted to assist his son in his run for the state Senate.
John Sapien served in the Senate from 2009 to 2021, representing Placitas, Corrales, Bernalillo and part of Rio Rancho.
According to a 2020 article in the Rio Rancho Oberserver, when John Sapien announced he would not run for a fourth term he said he had other things to do, including helping his father get dialysis three times a week.