On Jan. 20, Ruidoso lost one of its most colorful and respected residents, long-time local physician Dr. Edward V. Stalzer, who died at the age of 93.

"This news causes me and my whole family great heartache. We know we are not alone," said Dr. Carl R. Blesius, who often joined Edward and his wife Gisela at their home in Ruidoso to celebrate a traditional Christmas, lighting candles on a two-story high tree. "Both he and Gi have been fixtures in my life since my birth. Together they have been examples of how to live and love life to the fullest."

Edward's life was marked by exotic explorations and life-and-death situations worthy of any screenwriter. At the age of 16, he set a record for high altitude flying in a glider in the former Yugoslavia, where he was born. With Gisela, he escaped the Russian occupation of Eastern Europe, survived an airplane crash in the Brazilian jungle, established a medical mission for the natives and spent months on freighters exploring the far corners of the world.

During a 1997 interview at the couple's spacious home in Ruidoso, Stalzer boasted, "There's not a continent we haven't seen." Displays of artifacts throughout the home backed up that claim and showcased their travels.

Blesius' son, who lives in Boston, is a physician and teaches at Harvard, recalled that one of his earliest boyhood memories was of sailing with Ed and Gi on the sailboat they kept at San Carlos, Mexico.

"As a child, I would look at the anaconda skin, bows, arrows and other artifacts in their home with awe.


I actually still do every time I visit. I would often think of what it would have been like to be along on that trip and many others. His flying and wanderlust is what brought him and my father together two years before I was born."

He remembered that driving with Edward at the wheel always was an adventure and that when the man he so admired gave up skiing and passed his boots and skis to the young man, "Even at 6 feet, 4 inches, I found them too big."

Edward always was trying something new when most people would have thrown up their hands," Blesius said. He kept in touch with friends around the work through his interest in ham radio. Through it all, he seldom complained about his constant pain.

"I'll always be amazed at how tough and stoic he was," Blesius said. "I've seen many give up after one surgery and he didn't after many serious ones. He kept moving through sheer will.

"Gi is a role model for patience, friendship, perseverance, enduring love, and is clearly his kindred spirit."

As friend Paul Petani summed it up, "All in all, a man who lived life to the fullest, savoring every last drop, and he made many lasting friendships along the way. I will miss him dearly."

A memorial service will be scheduled in the future.