Published: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 5:57 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 5:57 p.m.
Former Sonoma State University professor Raymond Castro died Jan. 15 after battling a long illness. He was 64.
Castro served as the department chair for the Chicano and Latin Studies (CALS) program at SSU from 1994-2004.
During his tenure at SSU, Castro was instrumental in the development of the CALS department and was one of the proponents who changed the name of the department from Mexican-American Studies to CALS.
“He chaired the department through some very tough economic times and managed to stay afloat,” said Patricia Kim-Rajal, the current chair of the CALS department. “He deserves a lot of credit for that.”
Remembered as a “charming” man whose favorite holiday was Halloween, Castro was born in Los Angeles on May 11, 1948, the son of Raymond L. Castro and Antonia Robles. Castro's father was a painter for the L.A. city school district, and his mother was a housewife.
Castro attended high school at St. Anthony's Franciscan Seminary in Santa Barbara, graduating in 1966.
He graduated from UCLA in 1970 with a B.A. in Spanish, staying on at the school to finish a master's degree in public administration in 1972. Castro received his doctorate of education from Harvard University in 1976, a field he went on to work in most of his life.
Castro worked as an administrator and faculty member at Claremont Graduate School, San Jose State University, U.C. Berkeley and SSU.
He also served as vice president of the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute, a think tank for Latino issues, from 1988-1993.
Daughter Maria Garcia noted that one of his greatest achievements was the work he had done for the education of the Chicano and Latin community. She recounted the story of how her father obtained a list of all of the Latino students who had dropped out of SSU, calling up each one of them to see if he could help them reconsider.
“I met many students later on who told me he was integral in helping them move forward with their lives,” said Garcia.
A memorial service will take place in Southern California later this month.
Castro is survived by his four children, Dr. Maria Garcia of Santa Rosa, Raymond A. Castro of Denver, Walter Castro of San Francisco and Carlos Castro of Albuquerque; and his grandchildren, Roberto Garcia, Alejandro Garcia and Anthony Castro. He is also survived by his brothers Paul Castro and David Castro, along with his nephew Paul Castro and nieces Jessica Castro and Sara Castro.