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A fitting tribute to a fallen barber

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Softball tourney to raise funds for ‘Gilly’s’ kids

During this time last year, Gallup had Gilbert “Gilly” Parra. He was shaving and chiseling heads of hair into artistic masterpieces.

Whether a tribal design, or more elaborate – a Sylvester the cat and Tweety bird design,  or bringing notice to autism, Parra was a barber for the ages, and a unique treasure to his family, friends and clients.

Diamond Cuts on Gallup’s south end was his hub, and at 24, he was living life on his terms, according to his loving mother, Lisa Romero. She recalled, trying not to choke up, that her Gilly was a strong-willed child, and somewhat unconventional.

“He was a firecracker,” she said.

Parra had some good sense mixed with the usual teen rebellion, graduating from a military high school at 16, and becoming a barber by the time he was 18. He was all about detail, Romero said, wearing the sharpest clothes and churning out artistic masterpieces on heads – design concepts that often began on scratch paper.

“It took a long time, but his customers loved it,” Romero said. “He had a big clientele.”

He had plans to leave the Gallup area to join his son and daughter in Phoenix. He wanted to be close to his children and explore life as a barber in the Valley of the Sun.

But, those dreams, aspirations for something bigger and better ended abruptly July 22, 2016.

As he drove into Albuquerque with Madalyn Warren, 17, in the early morning hours of that fate-filled summer day, he hit a semi-truck trailer, struck a guardrail, and rolled several times, according to media reports. He was driving Warren’s SUV and neither Parra or Warren were wearing seatbelts. They died on impact.

Romero said the memorial for the duo is near the Junction 25 (9 miles) and Santa Rosa mileage sign on eastbound I-40, near the Atrisco Vista exit.

And how she found out about her son’s death was heart wrenching.

News of their deaths began flooding social media mere hours after the accident. In turn, one of Parra’s friends called to offer Romero condolences and to find out more details about his death. She was at work, and she fought back tears as she reminisced on the horrible news.

It was a bad dream, but she held out a glimmer of hope as Parra’s vehicle was still parked in his driveway. After several hours of phone calls, and intense emotions, New Mexico State Police officials confirmed that Parra was deceased.

“Father’s Day was hard,” she said, pausing for moment. “He was a very good daddy.”

Romero said that prior to his death, Parra took the trip of a lifetime with his children. They were supposed to go to Disneyland California, but were entranced by the beaches and crashing waves, and never made it to the popular amusement park.

“He was very outgoing and sporadic, especially with the kids,” she said.


Although Romero’s heart is broken, she has vowed to keep her son’s spirit alive by hosting a softball tournament June 23 -25 at the Gallup Sports Complex.

Spots filled up fast, and many of the players are friends of Parra.

“It’s going to be crazy packed,” she said. “They (friends) all want to memorialize him.”

In addition to the softball action, a DJ, jumper for kids, and mechanical bull round out the fun activities.

Why a fundraiser?       Parra’s 5 year old daughter and 2 year old son currently reside with her, and she wants them to attend college. So, a fund has been set up to help make that a reality.

To donate, or for information on the event, call Lisa Romero (505) 879-9715.

By Babette Herrmann
Sun Editor