Valdez never slowed down; after his time in government, he ran a successful public affairs firm and worked with the Denver Foundation to raise money for a charter school in west Denver named in his honor in 2015. The Ruben Valdez Achievement Campus at 2626 West Evans in Denver houses the Strive Prep Academy.

Ruben Valdez, the first Hispanic speaker of the Colorado House and a Trinidad native died Tuesday at age 82.

The Associated Press (AP) reported the news late Wednesday and confirmed that Valdez’s wife, Virginia, died in 1999 and three children and seven grandchildren survive him.

Plans for his memorial services are pending and are expected to be announced later by family members.

Besides his role as speaker from 1975-76, Valdez was also a former regional director of the U.S. Department of Transportation and was a Democratic state representative for west and southwest Denver from 1971 to 1978.

Said AP, “Valdez served in the transportation department under the Jimmy Carter administration. He also worked as executive director of Colorado’s Department of Social Services and Department of Labor and Employment.”

Many state politicians made statements of their condolences for Valdez.

Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet said: “Ruben Valdez led a life of principle, conviction, service, and commitment to uncovering opportunity for every Coloradan. All who knew Ruben respected his leadership, tenacity, and ability to work across the aisle.

“Ruben took great pride in serving as our state’s first Latino Speaker of the House, where his first priority was always the people. Driven by his own personal experiences, Ruben was a tireless advocate for education, working to create better schools for every child. In a long and distinguished career in public service, Ruben’s leadership has left a remarkable legacy across our state.

“Ruben’s passing is not only a loss for Colorado, but a profound personal loss for all who were fortunate enough to call him a friend.”

Said Colorado State Senate President Leroy Garcia: “I want to express my deepest condolences to the Valdez family. Ruben was a warm, welcoming presence in the Capitol who fought hard so fewer Coloradans would have to overcome the obstacles he did. He worked tirelessly, collaborated with anyone, regardless of party, and understood the importance of treating everyone with dignity and respect. It is for all of those reasons that he will be remembered as a great public servant, husband, father, and friend. He broke ground as the first Latino Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives.”

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