I am deeply saddened to share with you the passing of Roger and Dee Cisneros. Roger and Dee were pillars in our community. They were bold leaders, dedicated and committed public servants of our community, who gave their time, energy, and resources to help others less fortunate forge ahead to better lives. To those of us at the Latin American Educational Foundation, they are even more….they are family. Roger and Dee were the founders of this great organization, having worked together with a very small group of folks to establish LAEF back in 1949. Roger served as the President of the Board in 1960, and over the years attended dinner dances, galas, and other receptions, not to mention reviewing hundreds of scholarship applications and mentoring countless youth. And for all of these years, Dee was at his side working to help LAEF and our community become a better place.
Sixty-eight years ago, Roger and Dee Cisneros recognized the need to improve access to higher education for young Hispanic and Latino kids in Colorado and they had a vision of a more prosperous Colorado if we advanced the education, leadership and economic status of all Hispanics. Over these 68 years, because of Roger and Dee, thousands of young talented students from throughout Colorado got their chance to attend college and pursue their dreams of a college education. On behalf of those thousands of students, we are all eternally grateful for their work and the impact they made on the lives of young people all across this state.
I hope moving forward, despite our own personal sadness today, that we are all further encouraged by Roger and Dee, and even more committed and determined to carry on their work and passion.
Roger and Dee were even more to me personally. They provided guidance, counsel, thoughts, ideas, and invaluable wisdom. Roger and Dee would still stop by the LAEF office every few months, and we spoke regularly. In fact, I just spoke with Roger late last week…he was full of energy, talkative, and excited to attend our next event. I often had lunch with Roger and Dee at the Denver Athletic Club, where they still worked out every morning. I cherished the friendship and love they gave to me.
Every day that I come into the office and look at their pictures on the wall, or sat with them, whether in the office, at the DAC, or in their home, I am constantly reminded of the commitment, time and dedication they had for LAEF, and the vision they had back in 1949. I hope moving forward, despite our own personal sadness today, that we are all further encouraged by Roger and Dee, and even more committed and determined to carry on their work and passion. I feel, and I hope you too feel, the deep responsibility and obligation to hold and carry the reins of LAEF that they placed in our hands, and that we will all sacrifice a bit more of our time, energy and resources to fulfilling the dream they envisioned 68 years ago.
Roger and Dee, from the thousands of scholarship recipients, and friends and families of LAEF, thank you. We’ll love you forever and never forget what you gave to this community. Vayan con Dios.
By Jim Chávez
Jim Chávez is the Executive Director of the Latin American Education Funds in Denver, Colorado.