Monday, December 1, 2008

In Honor of Ross Valencia, ‘Mr. Boyle Heights’

Legendary activist and political veteran Ross Valencia passed away recently. He was a fantastic man who did so much for Boyle Heights and the entire City of Los Angeles. In Boyle Heights, which is an incredibly active community with many outstanding individuals doing great things, Ross was known as “Mr. Boyle Heights,” which tells you a lot about his commitment to his neighborhood. He founded the Boyle Heights Chamber of Commerce and co-founded the L.A. City Chicano Employees Association. He worked in government, including serving as former CD14 Councilmember Art Snyder’s Chief Deputy for 11 years. A Navy veteran, Ross was a member of the American G.I. Forum and a whole bunch of other organizations. A short time before he passed, he told me a story about how when he came back from World War II, he tried to rent an apartment in Boyle Heights, but they wouldn’t rent to him because he was Mexican American. Well some time later, Ross went back and bought the house right next to the same apartment building. He was a great man who will be sorely missed. He is survived by his wife Carmen, 5 children, 14 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren. We told him before he died that we’re going to name a park after him, and I’m going to make sure we do just that. Ross Valencia was 81.