Southland Mourns Death of Edward Roybal
LOS ANGELES -- Funeral services are set for Monday at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels for Edward R. Roybal, who represented Boyle Heights and other areas of Los Angeles in Congress for 30 years.
Flags were at half-staff today at city and county buildings in honor of the veteran lawmaker, who died Monday at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena of respiratory failure complicated by pneumonia. He was 89.
His death was announced yesterday by his daughter, Rep. Lucille Roybal- Allard, D-Los Angeles.
"I am deeply saddened by the passing of my good friend and a true American leader, the Honorable Edward Roybal," Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said yesterday.
"Edward Roybal fought for what was right, just and true. A champion for civil rights and social justice like him does not come around every day."
The Roybal family issued a statement today, thanking friends for their thoughts and prayers.
"Today we mourn the loss of a true champion in the cause of civil rights, and most importantly, a loving and devoted husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather," the family said. "As with so many people who came in contact with him, our father taught us to believe in social justice and the importance of building coalitions and giving back to our community.
"Although today is a sad day for the Roybal family, we consider ourselves blessed to have had a father that gave us boundless joy."
County Supervisor Gloria Molina said Roybal was her political mentor.
"The congressman was a true barrier-breaker and a political legend, particularly in the Mexican-American community," Molina said. "Without question, he was instrumental in my political development. He taught me the importance of public service and he motivated me to work hard each and every day for the betterment of our community." Roybal spent 43 years in public service and founded the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, serving as its chair in 1997.
"Ed Roybal was, in every sense, a gifted public servant," said Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles. "He was a trailblazer and icon of the Latino community. He paved the way to political power for today's Latino elected officials."
Roybal was born Feb. 10, 1916, in Albuquerque, N.M., but his family moved to the Boyle Heights area when he was 6. He graduated from Roosevelt High School and studied business at UCLA and law at Southwestern University.
He served in the U.S. Army during World War II.
Roybal made his first run for public office in 1947, when he lost a bid for the Los Angeles City Council. In the wake of that election, he helped create the Community Service Organization, and fought to eliminate discrimination in housing, employment and education.
He ran for the council again in 1949 and won, beginning a 13-year tenure.
He was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives on Nov. 6, 1962, becoming the first Hispanic from California to serve in Congress since the 1880s.
During his first term, he served on the Interior and Insular Affairs Committee and the Post Office Committee. After being re-elected, he served on the Foreign Affairs Committee and eventually on the Veterans Affairs Committee.
In 1967, Roybal authored the first bilingual education bill, and one year later he lobbied for the creation of a Cabinet Committee on Opportunities for Spanish-speaking people.
During his 30-year tenure in Washington, he also pushed for bilingual court proceedings and backed legislation outlawing age discrimination and providing benefits for the disabled.
He was reprimanded in 1978 after a vote-buying investigation involving a lobbyist, but his congressional career continued for another 14 years. In the 1980s, he became chairman of the Treasury-Postal Service-General Government Subcommittee and served on the Labor-Health and Human Services-Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee. He later chaired the Select Committee on Aging.
He pushed for senior housing programs and was a key backer of the Meals on Wheels program.
Roybal remained in Congress until 1992, when he decided not to seek re- election. That year, his daughter was elected.
Roybal is survived by his wife, Lucille; and children Lucille Roybal- Allard, Lillian Roybal-Rose and Edward Roybal Jr. He also has several grandchildren.
The funeral service is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Monday at the downtown cathedral. Roybal will be buried at Calvary Cemetery in Boyle Heights.
The family asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Edward R. Roybal Foundation, 2047 Pasqual St., Pasadena, 91107.
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