The 25 Richest People in New Mexico

From CROSSWINDS, New Mexico’s largest alternative newspaper

October 1996


   Abruzzo family

   Robert O. Anderson

   Anderson family

   John Bassett

   Beck family

   Richard L. Bloch

   Thomas H. Bonafair

   George Buffett

   Cooper/Ramo family

   Andrew Davis

   Ray and Barbara Graham

   Hebenstreit family

   Joanna Hess

   John Hillenbrand

   Jicarilla Apache Tribe

   Gary Johnson

   Bruce King

   Robert S. Light

   Robert McKinney

   Colin McMillan

   Mescalero Apache Tribe

   Charles Miller

   Richard C.E. Morgan

   O’Brien family

   Thomas K. Reed Jr.

   Penny Taylor Rembe

   Larry L. Risley

   Ed Romero

   Ray Sena

   Henry Singleton

   Robert J. Stamm

   Leland Thompson

   Thomas P. Tinnin

   Ted Turner

   Zollinger family

Home Page   |   Nos. 1 to 5   |   Nos. 6 to 10   |   Nos. 11 to 15   |   Nos. 16 to 20   |   Nos. 21 to 25

But What About ...


some who were close, some you might think were close, and some who just have rich reputations.


     There are many other people with New Mexico connections who have some bucks or are thought to have a lot, or who are certainly rich but not rich enough to make the list. Reasons include insufficient assets, too much debt, non-New Mexico residence, or, candor compels us to admit, inadequate information or last-minute tips coupled with insufficient time for proper research. (Hey, we're not on the list!) But we'll keep watching. Herewith a roster in alphabetical order of the runners-up and interesting others.

     ABRUZZO family, Albuquerque. Clan controls the Sandia Peak and Tram Co., shopping centers. Net worth uncertain.

     ROBERT O. ANDERSON, Roswell. Business reverses have wiped out the once considerable fortune of this former ARCO head and famed oilman. But his name still adorns the University of New Mexico's business school, the state's largest.

     ANDERSON family, Albuquerque. They are the heirs of oilman Maxie Anderson, first person to cross the Atlantic in a helium balloon. He died in a 1983 balloon crash. Family owns own the Anderson Valley Vineyards and last year sold the hotly disputed Anderson Field on Rio Grande Blvd. for nearly $10 million. All told, maybe $20 million.

    JOHN BASSETT, Roswell. Lawyer sits on the board of A.H. Belo, owner of The Dallas Morning News. According to the latest proxy statement, he and his family own nearly $19 million of Belo stock.

     BECK family, Roswell. Family owns the century-old Roswell Daily Record, which has sold an estimated 50,000 copies of its July 8, 1947, front page announcing a nearby flying saucer crash. That's nearly four times the daily circulation of 14,000. Estimated worth $17 million.

     RICHARD L. BLOCH, Santa Fe. He is an ex-owner of basketball's Phoenix Suns and a one-time Hollywood executive. Precise extent of wealth is unknown at this time but clearly substantial.

    THOMAS H. BONAFAIR, Albuquerque. Five years ago this Mike Ditka look-alike bought New Mexico Beverage Co. with borrowed money. Look for him to hit our list as he pays down the beer distributorship's debt.

     GEORGE BUFFETT, Albuquerque. The arch-conservative veteran state representative is sometimes called New Mexico's Popcorn King for his ownership of kernal peddler B&H Wholesale Supply. Besides owning Buffett's Candy, he's also the cousin of Warren Buffett, one of America's richest men. Past legislative financial disclosure forms have listed George's ownership of unspecified shares in Warren's Berkshire Hathaway, America's most expensive stock (recent price, $32,800). George would need only 763 shares to make our list. Does he have it? ``I'm not telling,'' Buffett says with a laugh. ``I admit that I still own Berkshire Hathaway. A lot of people do ask me about that.''

     COOPER/RAMO FAMILY, Albuquerque. Here's a one-family conglomerate. David Cooper, 79, is chairman of Western Warehouse, a rapidly growing clothing chain based in Albuquerque. Daughter Roberta Cooper Ramo is president of the American Bar Association and a shareholder in Modrall Sperling Roehl Harris and Sisk, the state's largest law firm. Her husband, Barry Ramo, is a cardiologist and KOAT-TV Channel 7's resident medical expert. (His out-of-state uncle, Simon Ramo, who developed the U.S. ballistic missile system, is the R in corporate giant TRW.) However, despite public perception the family owns well less than half of Western Warehouse, Roberta's previous law firm went bust and David has given a lot over the years to charity and religious causes. ``No way,'' David says. Estimated combined wealth maybe $8 million.

    ANDREW DAVIS, Santa Fe. Mutual fund manager, 33, is a son of prominent mutual fund manager Shelby M.C. Davis and the grandson of New York investment banker Shelby Cullom Davis. Grandpa died in 1994 leaving behind an billion dollar estate--all of which went to a foundation. Andrew owns part of Davis Selected Advisers L.P., the family's mutual fund management business, which also employs him to manage the so-far modest David Real Estate Fund (assets $32 million). He just might be the beneficiary of a trust or two, too. Is he worth $25 million. ``I don't think I make your list--yet,'' he says. ``But my goal is to be there.''

    RAY AND BARBARA GRAHAM, Albuquerque. Developers of the West Side La Luz complex, they are said to control downtown office buildings. Insufficient information.

     HEBENSTREIT family, Albuquerque. Veteran New Mexico broadcasters (the first radio station they bought, in 1928, operated out of a bus), these third-generation operators in 1991 sold off their 58% share of what is now Albuquerque's KRQE-TV, Channel 13, and Roswell's KBIM-TV, both CBS affiliates. Now they are trying to develop a telecommunications business. Family leader Andrew Hebenstreit didn't call us back. Maybe $15 million.

    JOANNA HESS, Santa Fe. Her messy divorce from her German demi-billionaire husband, Donald Hess, is still pending. Court secrecy makes situation hard to assess, but New Mexico, after all, is a community property state.

     JOHN HILLENBRAND, Santa Fe. He owns the famous Nambe Mills Inc. cookware company and is a member of the family that owns Hillenbrand Industries, the giant Indiana bed and casket maker. Forbes last year put the total family net worth at $1.2 billion. He didn't return our call.

    JICARILLA APACHE TRIBE, Dulce. Not strictly one family, there's a lot of inter-marriage within this northern New Mexico tribe and we couldn't resist. Counting the 870,580 acres of reservation land, huge investments and energy royalties, we figure the 750 families -- that's the total number -- are collectively worth $2 billion. That works out to more than $2.5 million per household.

     GARY JOHNSON, Santa Fe and Albuquerque. Our current guv's old labor construction company and labor brokerage, Big J Enterprises, seems to be on the wane. Insufficient information, but it's unclear the company could be sold for much. Although Johnson has spoken to school classes about his own wealth, his office declined to comment to us.

     BRUCE KING, Stanley. Our three-term ex-guv and his brothers may have, to use his most famous phrase, a whole box of pandoras. Huge land holdings -- 275,000 acres by one count -- are offset, judging from public filings, by significant debt. But that's just fine with Bruce. Otherwise, he told us in his distinctive cadence, ``All your creditors'd just be hunting ya.''

    ROBERT S. LIGHT, Carlsbad. State representative's financial disclosure form, which does not list numbers, is very interesting: bank chairman, own property management company, oil and gas investments, movie theaters, land, stocks and bonds. He's even been known to write five-figure personal checks to fund projects the legislature won't. Promising but unclear to us.

     ROBERT MCKINNEY. The longtime owner of The Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper would make this list except for residence. He lives in near-sea-level Virginia, avoiding Santa Fe's 7,200-foot altitude on his doctor's orders.

    COLIN MCMILLAN, Roswell. The former Assistant Secretary of Defense, one-time state representative and staunch Republican spent more than $2 million of his own money in his unsuccessful and rather nasty U.S. Senate race against Jeff Bingaman in 1994. But it looks like McMillan has some left. He is chairman and majority shareholder of Roswell's First Federal Savings Bank of New Mexico (assets, $206 million). He has oil interests and, with a partner, a 56,000-acre ranch. Intriguing. He didn't call us back.

     MESCALARO APACHE TRIBE, Mescalero. Over several decades tribal president Wendall Chino has built a significant economy on the scenic 460,679-acre reservation near Ruidoso. His crowning achievement: the Inn of the Mountain Gods resort, with 253 rooms and an 18-hole golf course. Even without the casino, which is fighting in court to stay open, we figure the 3,500 tribal members might be sitting on $500 million.

    CHARLES MILLER. He's a retired money manager and resident of no-income-tax Texas, who owns Georgia O'Keefe's old house in Santa Fe and spends a lot of time there. $40 million.

     RICHARD C.E. MORGAN, Albuquerque. The CEO of computer game-maker Lasertechnics owns about $9 million of his company's stock.

     O'BRIEN family, Farmington. Family owns of the Farmington Daily Times, the largest paper in the Four Corners area and somewhat controversial for a notoriously public religious point of view. $16 million.

    THOMAS K. REED JR., Santa Fe. The founder of genetic engineering Vivigen Inc., he sold the company in 1992 to Genzyme Inc. for $8 million of stock. That is now worth about $10 million if he held on, probably more if he sold promptly, paid the capital gains tax and diversified.

     PENNY TAYLOR REMBE, Albuquerque. This gracious woman is: president of the UNM Board of Regents, businesswoman, doctor's wife, bank director (Norwest), rancher and heiress whose late financier/oilman/cattle ranching father was known around her native Amarillo as "Mr. Beef." During college in 1960 she herself was chosen "Duchess of Amarillo" to represent the city at a Texas festival. Worth $25 million? ``That's pretty funny,'' she says cryptically.

     LARRY L. RISLEY, Farmington. He's the CEO of Mesa Air Group, our state's largest locally based airline, but his stake is only worth about $1 million.

    ED ROMERO, Albuquerque. Founder and owner of Advanced Sciences Inc., a pollution cleanup company. Two years ago Hispanic magazine put his net worth at $20 million, making him one of the country's wealthiest Hispanics.

     RAY SENA, Santa Fe. The owner of the Shuttlejack, with its monopoly on scheduled van service between Albuquerque International Airport and the City Different, told the State Corporation Commission a few years ago he really didn't know how much money he was making. Right. Insufficient information.

    HENRY SINGLETON. He owns more than 500,000 acres of New Mexico, including the famous San Cristobal Land Grant Ranch near Santa Fe. Forbes last year valued this founder of corporate conglomerate Teledyne Inc. at $660 million. But he lives in California, in a place with a zip code of 90210.

    ROBERT J. STAMM, Albuquerque. The long-time president of contractor Bradbury & Stamm (Bradbury was his father-in-law) says he and his family no longer have a majority stake and come nowhere near our minimum. But Stamm says he sits on a board that does some fundraising, ``so we'll be very interested in your list.''

     LELAND THOMPSON, Santa Fe. Transplanted Texas oilman owns with partners lots of land around Interstate 25. Value unclear but hefty.

     THOMAS P. TINNIN, Albuquerque. This one-time Cosmopolitan magazine Bachelor of the Month, now 48, is a second-generation developer whose projects include Tinnin Farms, Tinnin Center, Highland Shopping Center and Century Square. He also has a decent insurance agency business and is big into property management. But he argued strenuously he wasn't worth our list's minimum of $25 million. ``I can assure you we are not in that category,'' he says. We agree--this time.

     TED TURNER. The famous CNN founder, Atlanta Braves owner and multi-billionaire owns about 1.5 pecent of all of New Mexico, more than anybody else. Holdings include the 360,000-acre Armendaris Ranch on Elephant Butte Reservoir, the 210,000-acre Ladder Ranch near Truth and Consequences and, as of last month, the 578,000-acre Vermejo Park Ranch near Cimmaron. But the carpetbagger doesn't make our list because he still lives with Jane in Georgia.

    ZOLLINGER family, Gallup. Family owns the 106-year-old Gallup Independent newspaper, circulation 15,000. Estimated family worth $16 million.