I heard this morning about the death of Larry Toledo.
Toledo’s most tangible contribution to our community came when he was part of the group that helped start Pima Community College back in 1970. He eventually became athletic director and served in that position until his retirement in 1997. After that, he worked with his sons producing films.
He was an accomplished athlete; he was even drafted by the San Diego Chargers at one point. He thought that athletics was important, and worked hard to make sure that young athletes from the South and West sides got the attention from the press and colleges that he felt they deserved.
It was a small part of his broader vision: he wanted to make sure that our youth, no matter what neighborhood they came from, had opportunities and were successful.
His advocacy for young athletes and youth in general was only one part of his social activism, but it’s one I’ve seen the effects of all the time. I’ve always thought the word “mentor” gets used too much, but it’s amazing how many people I meet that name Toledo as a major influence when they were growing up. He gave them a chance, and they now feel it’s their responsibility to give a chance to others.
I spoke to Supervisor Richard Elías this morning and he remembered one line from a talk that Toledo gave back in the spring. Toledo talked about the advice he gave to youth: “Stay away from haters.” If people were willing to disparage their neighbors and their community, they aren’t worth being around, he told kids.
He’ll be missed, but his proteges are everywhere.