An avid cyclist, outdoorsman, park ranger and pickleball champion died after he and his best friend were hit by a car near Mountainair, driven by district judge Shannon Murdock.
Friends described Billy Weinman as a man with a huge zest for life, many hobbies and interests, and a great sense of humor. He died from injuries sustained in the crash that left his friend and frequent companion, Karl Baumgartner, in the hospital, according to friends of the two men.
Anne Ravenstone visited Baumgartner in the hospital and said he is expected to make a full recovery, although his injuries are very serious. “Karl has a long road to go to recovery, but has been told he should be able to recover 100 percent,” Ravenstone said.
“Billy was huge into creating the pickleball craze in Mountainair,” said Rebecca Anthony, who was married to Weinman until early this year.
Guy Burkeen played pickleball with Weinman three days a week, “and twice on Wednesdays,” he said. “The kind of person he was, very loving, the most giving, just a bright man,” Burkeen said. “He dearly loved to ride his bike. He was a hiker, and loved to hike the mountains and he’s been around the mountains everywhere. The man knew what he was doing—he had a very good head on his shoulders.”
He continued, “He had some dogs he loved to take out for walks on the back trails of his house. He really loved to be on his bike—he literally pedaled all the way to Kansas City. … He was very strong, strong-hearted and strong-willed. No matter what the task was, he would take it on.”
Under Weinman’s tutelage in pickleball, both he and Burkeen competed and brought home the gold.
He also helped with the Torrance County 50+ Games, the state senior games and national senior games. “He definitely took the time out of his days, and not just for me or others, he spent hours practicing with others, helping others get a skill level in their game.”
Norma Pineda is the Chief Ranger at the Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument, part of the National Park Service.
She said Weinman first got a job working at the monument’s bookstore before getting hired on as a bilingual park guide, seasonally, and later spent a four-year term as a park ranger. Pineda was his supervisor.
“He was excellent with the public. He treated everyone with the utmost respect and was just a people person,” Pineda said. “People loved him, and he loved people. He did everything above and beyond.”
Pineda said Weinman did “living history” presentations for the park. “He’d research the character he would be portraying and you would have thought he’d been doing it for years, he was a natural at it.” She said people call and ask for Weinman by name so often they joked about him having a fan club.
Asked what she would miss the most about her former colleague, Pineda answered, “His smile. He was a very happy person who lived life to the fullest, each and every day. That’s what I’m going to miss.”
Ravenstone is friends with both men and all belong to a local hiking club. On a hike to Wheeler peak, the group hit a scree slope with lots of loose rock, she said.
Her leg went out from under her and she ended up with a broken ankle. She was with Weinman and Baumgartner, and Weinman’s wife at the time. “We had to wait about four hours for a horse to get up there,” Ravenstone recalled. “We were all laid under a tarp, it was raining and we were worrying about storms. Billy and Karl were there keeping my spirits up the whole time. I rode a horse all the way down that mountain from 14,000 feet.”
Ravenstone said one of her strongest memories of Weinman was his living history performance. “I can’t remember who he played, but he was by far the best actor in that group. It was amazing.”
Another friend, Kate Schenk, also described the two men as best friends. “Those two never stopped talking. They talked about everything and anything, two intelligent well-read men who talked about different interesting things. How they could go from one thing to the next, all week.”
Schenk said she visited Baumgartner in the hospital and “was very happy to see him Sunday.”
She went on, “Billy felt at home being outside, as I did. Being outside, we both understood the feeling.”
Schenk went on a 90-mile backpacking trip with Weinman and his wife. She described her friend as a “man of many facets,” adding, “He could get up at the end of finishing a backpacking trip for the day, set up camp, and would be throwing water bottles around as a football like a child, but he could recite Shakespeare. … He had done a lot of things in life, and always went his own path. And he wore interesting clothes—color coordination was not up there on this list. He could make you laugh. He just did his own thing.”
Schenk was also part of the pickleball group and said Weiman was its anchor. “He was always ready to get up and move, he never stopped.”
Pineda said she had asked Weinman if he would apply for another job at the Park Service, but he said he was anxious “to get out there and hike and ride his bike.”
She explained, “Not just one or two miles—hundreds of miles. And that’s what he enjoyed doing. He just loved the outdoors, he loved exploring, discovering things, that was a passion of his.
Pineda said a memorial service for Weinman will be held at the Quarai ruins on Oct. 5 at 2 p.m.
“He loved what he was doing and it showed,” Pineda said. “You got so comfortable around him, like you’ve known him your entire life.”
Leota started working for The Independent in 2006, working her way up through the ranks. An employee buyout in 2010 led to her ownership of the newspaper. Leota has served on the board of the N.M. Press Association, and is currently its First Vice President. She is passionate about health and wellness, especially mental health, and loves making art. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.