While browsing through some Sallyports from the early 1960s last night my attention was caught by a short article buried in the January 1961 issue. A long-serving maintenance man, Elias Ramirez, had passed away in December and was remembered fondly by alumni:
Much of the physical labor at the Rice Institute was done by Hispanics. For example, check out the names on this payroll time sheet for the construction of the original cinder track:
What’s rare is for for their names to make it into print, especially in a way that gives some clues about their lives. (Click here for an exception.) This time, however, it didn’t take much research for me to discover that the quiet, smiling man who took good care of our buildings for over four decades was a hero of the early days of the struggle for Mexican-American civil rights in Houston and Texas. Here is the Texas legislature’s concurrent resolution that named the state office building over on the east side in his honor:
Greatness surrounds us and we are so often looking for it in all the wrong places.
Bonus: One of Mr. and Mrs. Ramirez’s children, Joe, was a prisoner of war in Korea. Photographer Lou Witt at the Houston Chronicle captured his homecoming in 1953 in a remarkable series of images.