By Shannon Murphy / Opinion Co-Editor
Raymond Rodriguez, a 16-year professor of history and political science as well as a dean of certified personal services at LBCC, died on Monday, June 24 at age 87 of a heart attack.Rodriguez was the first Latino administrator at LBCC. After dropping out of high school his senior year, Rodriguez served in the Navy during World War II.
After the war, he attended LBCC and Cal State Long Beach where he earned a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s in administration. He had also earned another master’s degree in U.S. history from USC. For 35 years, Rodriguez taught at the elementary, secondary and college levels. Ginny Baxter, executive director of the LBCC Foundation, worked with Rodriguez for several years spanning his entire career. She said, “When I came to the History Department in 1970, he was one of the first to welcome me. He told great stories and the students loved him. He was very compassionate.”
He was also the president of the Long Beach Chapter of the Association of Mexican American Educators, as well as the founder and president of the statewide California Community College Affirmative Action Consortium.
Rodriguez co-authored the book “Decade of Betrayal: Mexican Repatriation in the 1930’s,” with Professor Francisco Balderama of Cal State Los Angeles. The book studies the anti-Mexican discrimination experienced during the Great Depression era. The book received an award from the Gustavus Myer Center, which studies human rights issues.
Apart from teaching, Rodriguez was a columnist for the Press Telegram for 18 years. He also wrote Spanish columns for El Economico and Impacto, USA. Rodriguez’s campus nickname was the “task-master” due to how many different types of educational works he was involved in. Mark Taylor, director of College Advancement, Public Affairs and Government Relations, said Rodriguez was “known as a taskmaster in the classroom, but was sought after by students as an expert in his field.” “He was a great friend, inspiration and mentor to all of Long Beach,” said Mark Taylor.
Rodriguez is survived by his wife, Almira, sisters Angelina Ayala and Mary Johnston, his son Craig Smith, his daughter Crockett and five grandchildren. The Rodriguez family suggests donations be made to educational foundations.