The campus community at the University of New Mexico is paying homage to Don L. Chalmers, who lost his battle with cancer on Easter. Chalmers, owner of the local, prominent car dealership Don Chalmers Ford, served as regent of the University of New Mexico from 2005 to 2013.
UNM President Robert G. Frank said that few people serve with as much heart as Chalmers did. “He was a leader for our Foundation, our Hospital Board and our Board of Regents. Even after he left his official roles at the University, Don continued to offer his thoughtful advice and energetic expertise in support of UNM and our students. We have lost an irreplaceable friend,” he said.
Chalmers served on numerous boards in the community, including the UNM Foundation Board of Trustees. President and CEO of the UNM Foundation, Henry Nemcik said, "Don was a visionary leader and an avid supporter of philanthropy and its importance to society. He was a generous supporter throughout the community and university; and he will be missed."
Chalmers helped create the local affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, and was a member of the UNM Health Sciences Board of Directors. He was also a past committee member of the UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Group, UNM Hospital Clinical Operations and the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation.
Paul B. Roth, chancellor for Health Sciences and dean of the School of Medicine said, "There is a tradition in the wilderness that we should leave the forest in better condition than we entered it. Don's life embodied this principle. When he saw problems, he grew passionate about finding ways to solve them. When he saw a need in our community, he would apply his great energies toward meeting that need. Don has left this world better than when he first entered it."
Born in Tulsa, Okla., Chalmers earned a B.S. in marketing from Oklahoma State University in 1970, and did graduate work on his MBA. He owned and operated a string of car dealerships in Tulsa and Seattle before moving to New Mexico in 1996. He won the prestigious President’s Award from Ford Motors, more than 12 times, along with many other honors over the years. At the time of his death, Chalmers was a board member on the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce, the United Way of Central New Mexico and the Rio Rancho Community Foundation.
Fellow UNM Regent, Gene Gallegos said, “It was a privilege to serve with Don. Much of what the Regents face is really financial, commercial business. So Don’s guidance was invaluable and always the result of thorough study. I could never understand where he found the time for university matters along with everything else he was doing. Don just did whatever it took to get things done and do it the right way.”
UNM Regent Bradley Hosmer said, “Don Chalmer’s strength and great contribution as a UNM Regent came from the same source as his success in business and community: a sharp mind, balanced judgment, high energy and the fact he was a truly good person. He was an early-adapter, quick to see the advantages of any new proposal while careful to consider the downsides. He has been missed as a Regent and will be well-remembered by all.”
Chalmers is survived by his wife, two children and two grandchildren, as well as two brothers.
Memorial Services for Chalmers are scheduled for Friday, April 25 at 10:30 a.m. at Hoffmantown Church, 8888 Harper Rd NE, Albuquerque NM. Funeral arrangements are being handled by French Mortuary – University, 1111 University Blvd NE, Albuquerque New Mexico. 505-843-6333.
In lieu of flowers the family is asking for contributions to be sent in Chalmer’s memory to one of the following:
* University of New Mexico Cancer Center, Attn: Justin Schroer, 1201 Camino de Salud MSC07-4025, Albuquerque, NM 87131-001
* National Dance Institute of New Mexico, 4800 Central SE, Albuquerque NM 87108
* Fellowship of Christian Athletes, 8701 Leeds Road, Kansas City, MO 64129.