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1410 E Bowman Ave.
Las Cruces, NM 88001-3001
Phone: (575) 526-2419
Fax: (575) 526-7944
Eliot Orton
In Memory of
Eliot S
1933 - 2019
Memorial Candle Tribute From
Getz Funeral Home
"We are honored to provide this Book of Memories to the family."
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Obituary for Eliot S Orton

Eliot S  Orton
Eliot “Cot” Smith Orton was born September 5, 1933 in Sherrill New York and grew up in “the Orchard” adjacent to the Oneida Community Mansion House, where many of his extended family lived. His mother Tirzah Noyes was a direct descendent of Community founder John Humphrey Noyes. His friends and cousins called Eliot “Cot.” A club he formed with friends established as their first rule “dig no holes unless have to.”

Eliot was a leader, teacher, and lifelong learner. He was president of his high school class, quarterback on the eight-man football team, and winner of a New York Regents scholarship. He attended Cornell University, served at Fort Knox, and worked in the Labor Department in Washington DC.

On July 15, 1960, he married Sara Thompson of Cazenovia, New York. He said that until he met her, his main social skills were drinking, smoking, cussing and telling jokes. His devotion to her is legendary.

He returned to Cornell in 1964 and earned his PhD there; in 1970 he joined the NMSU faculty in Las Cruces, teaching and writing on labor economics and economic history here for the rest of his career.

At NMSU, he taught macro and micro economics; students often reported earning “the best C I ever got” and said “I didn’t get an A, but I learned a lot” in Orton’s class. He served as president of the faculty senate, represented the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), served on Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, advised the ATO fraternity, and edited the New Mexico Business Forum publication. He retired as Professor Emeritus. He robustly supported the Democratic Party and advised many New Mexico legislative leaders.

As an adult, he learned to ski, play tennis, jog, attend church, hunt, and use email. He believed the corporate income tax was a mistake. He made it his personal ministry to help people find their role in life. He laughed harder than most and whistled even louder.

He loved New Mexico (“350 days of sunshine per year!”), high-octane green enchiladas, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Airedales, horse races, “National Velvet” and “Fast Times At Ridgemont High,” Duriel Harris and Joe Pisarcik, Aggie basketball, La Casa, community theater, hiking, running, biking to work, Jelly-Roll Morton and Dixieland Jazz, the Oneida Community, John Riggins in particular and the Redskins in general (no one is perfect).

For the last ten years of his life he endured dementia with grace and good humor, and learned to accept support from an exceptional group of caregivers over his final five years.

He died peacefully at home on February 13, 2019, in the warm embrace of his family and caregivers and with the remarkable support of Mesilla Valley Hospice. He is survived by his children Stephen and Sara (Sally), their spouses Valerie and David, granddaughters Bex and Katie, and his wife of 58 years, Sara. His only brother Jim died in 2011.

A memorial service will be at St Andrew’s Episcopal Church at 3:00 PM on Sunday February 17, 2019. Getz Funeral Home is managing the details. A burial will be held in Sherrill, New York at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Mesilla Valley Hospice ( or St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church (

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