Writing about a dear friend who lived well and just crossed over is very difficult. Felix Elizalde was a member of the Alameda County Board of Education since 1990. And, longer still, he was providing scholarships as part of La Raza Media Educational Fund helping students reach their goals. Back in 1985 to 1990 or there about, I served on his committee to select students seeking to become journalists.
Uzette Salazar is a recipient of a scholarship. Uzette’s dad, Tony Salazar, produced Teleguia magazine for more than 20 years. Uzette tried to keep it going when her dad died a year ago. The year before, I remember hearing Uzette on KCBS Radio on Christmas Day…way to go girl!
My first radio interview with Felix was back in 1982, on KBRG Radio. I believe it was on higher education and the La Raza Media Scholarship. Over the years, I would interview Felix as I moved from station to station. We collaborated on a number of projects, but mostly, getting the students to finish college!
Felix had a Bachelors Degree in Journalism from San Jose State University and a Masters Degree in Broadcast Communication Arts from San Francisco State University. He also held a life standard secondary teaching credential, a life community college instructor credential and a life community college supervisor credential.
During the Korean Conflict of 1951 – 1955, Felix served in the Navy.
Throughout his life, Felix continued to study. Just last year he completed the Program of California Health Leadership Program, a one-year intensive program for a select number of Latino elected created by the National Association of Latino Elected Officials.
Last fall Felix was re-elected to his fifth term on the Alameda County Board of Education. He has served as board president three times. Prior to that, he served on the Alameda County Office of Education Personnel Commission for seven years. He recently sat on the board of directors of the California County Boards of Education and was a member of the Delegate Assembly of the California School Boards Association. He also served on two corporate boards and many nonprofit boards including The Hispanic Community Affairs Council. And he was the Donor Advisor and President of La Raza Media Education Fund of the San Francisco Foundation.
The California State Legislature, the San Francisco Foundation, the Cesar E. Chavez Foundation, the Oakland Raiders, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Alameda County and the news media have all honored Felix for his work in education and media.
Here is what some people had to say about our dear friend shortly before he passed away:
“I received a $600 La Raza Media Scholarship in 1974 when I was working on my dissertation at Stanford and earlier had attended the Ruben Salazar Media Conferences that Felix organized at Merritt College. We’ve been in touch and worked as tocayos over the years since then.”
—Dr. Felix Gutierrez, Professor University of Southern California
“I’ll remember him as a gracious man who was so kind to encourage me personally and professionally. He remembered his sense of humor and the joy of giving/helping others. I’ll remember him with warmth and appreciation in my heart.”
—Lisa Lemus, Educator and Counselor
“It is a blessing that this friendship circle that Felix Elizalde nurtured throughout some four decades continues Felix’s tradition of serving All For One and One For All!
“We are about to lose a Chicano activist legend. Felix Elizalde is on his deathbed; he lost his battle with lymphoma. I kept in touch with him after I moved to Puerto Rico but he kept his illness a secret and was still fighting for justice on the Alameda County Board of Education, he was reelected for his 4th term….20 years of looking out for Chicano children. I am overcome with sadness. My dear wonderful Felix, with whom I fought the good fight back in California on many media fronts. He is much loved. I cannot write anymore…I am deeply sorrowed. God bless.”
— Norma Burgos, former Executive Director of the San Francisco Broadcast Skills Bank during the late 1970’s.
“I’m saddened to learn of his failing health. It was always a joy to see Felix and chat whenever I visited the Bay area. And I can clearly hear his distinctive voice even now when I think of him. My prayers are with Felix, his family and friends. The final journey has begun — he’ll just get there a little ahead of us. His spirit will live on in all of us as long as his memory is kept alive…Much sadness in my house and heart tonight.”
—Abrazos, Rosa E. Morales, former talk show host of Alma de Bronce, KRON TV Channel 4
“Felix has been a pillar in the Hispanic community for more than 50 years, a man of great substance and strength. He has helped so many along the way. Felix’s contributions, love, and passion for educating our youth will always be remembered. My thoughts and prayers are with Felix and his family. May the peace of Christ be with you.”
Felix Elizalde was born to Florentino and Maria Elizalde on May 30, 1931, in Stockton, California. He is survived by his wife of 49 years, Margaret Elizalde; daughter Lynn and son Michael, son-in-law Soctt Leahy and four grandchildren: Melissa, Daniel, Alex and Catie.
A memorial service in celebration of his life will be held on Sat. Sept. 18, from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Alameda County School District Office of Education, 313 W. Winton Ave., Hayward, Ca. For more information, call (510) 670-4145
Story by: Rosana Madrigal