Utah notable latinos
Merrill, Jerald H. (1924-2005). Catholic priest Rev. Jerald H. Merrill had a long and varied career, much of which he dedicated to serving the Latino community in Utah. He graduated with a chemical-engineering degree from the University of Utah in 1948 and was ordained a Catholic priest in 1958. He worked in the Diocese of Salt Lake between 1958 and 1982. During this time, he was one of the leaders of SOCIO. He resigned his position, married, and later became an Episcopal priest. He dedicated his second priestly ministry to serving the homeless in and around downtown Salt Lake City. Rivera, Orlando (1930-2006). Orlando Rivera was born in La Jara, Colorado, and raised in an LDS family. He worked as a sheepherder in southern Colorado in his youth and was dedicated to bringing about social change for Latinos in Utah during his entire professional career. He came to the University of Utah in the late 1950s and eventually served as coordinator for the Rehabilitation Counselor Training Program. He was a member of the Lucero Ward and one of the leaders in the establishment and history of SOCIO. He was also a member of the Utah Council of La Raza and other Latino-based civic organizations.
Florez, John (1932-). John Florez was born on the west side of Salt Lake City, the son of a railroad worker and a housewife (who also served the community as a curandera, or healer). He graduated from West High School in 1951 and attended the University of Utah. Upon his graduation, he became involved with social programs and groups designed to help the poor specifically, the Latino population of Utah. He has served various Utah politicians in many capacities, including in the U.S. Department of Labor and on the staff of Senator Orrin Hatch. He is a member of more than 40 state and local volunteer boards.
Suazo, Eliud Pete (1951-2001). Utah Senator Eliud Pete Suazo was born in 1951, the son of a manito and manita who came to work in Utah during the years of World War II. Suazo graduated from West High School in 1968 and became involved with various programs operated by SOCIO. He attended the University of Utah (receiving a bachelor’s degree in 1973 and a master’s degree in 1978) and was involved in the founding of the campus’s MEChA chapter. He worked for a variety of public-service organizations in both New Mexico and Utah. He worked as a grant writer for IHRD and eventually served in the administrations of two Salt Lake City mayors. He won a seat in the Utah House in 1992, then moved on to the Utah Senate in 1996. Tragically, he was killed in an ATV accident in August of 2001.