Whittier College Community Mourns Loss of El Jefe Martin Ortiz '48

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Martin Ortiz '48, who served Whittier College for more than 40 years and who founded and directed Whittier College's Center of Mexican American Affairs, died yesterday afternoon. Ortiz' dedication to bettering the lives of students and to educational excellence has left a permanent mark on the College. 

"His commitment helped to transform Whittier College into one of the most diverse liberal arts colleges in the country and created an environment that promotes our founders' mission to respect people of all backgrounds," said President Sharon Herzberger. "He will be missed, but his legacy is strong." Read more in the Los Angeles Times

UPDATE: A memorial service honoring the life of Martin Ortiz '48 took place on January 25 at Whittier College. 

Martin Ortiz '48 Memorial Service

January 17, 2009

On January 12, 2009, our beloved alumnus, Martin Ortiz '48, known as El Jefe to the Whittier College community, died at the age of 89. Ortiz served the College for more than 40 years and founded Whittier College's Center of Mexican American Affairs in 1971. In 2004, Ortiz received an honorary doctorate from Whittier College and the title of Director Emeritus of the Center of Mexican American Affairs, later renamed the Ortiz Programs in his honor.

In a letter sent to the Whittier College community on Tuesday, President Sharon Herzberger said, "Martin's dedication to bettering the lives of students and to educational excellence has left a permanent mark on this institution.His commitment helped to transform Whittier College into one of the most diverse liberal arts colleges in the country and created an environment that promotes our founders' mission to respect people of all backgrounds... He will be missed, but his legacy is strong."

A memorial service for Ortiz will be held on Sunday, January 25 at 2:00 p.m. in the Ruth B. Shannon Center for the Performing Arts at Whittier College, 6760 Painter Ave., Whittier, CA 90608.A reception at the Memorial Chapel will immediately follow the service.

Ortiz' family has requested that in lieu of flowers contributions can be made to Whittier College for the Martin Ortiz Endowed Scholarship. Address: Whittier College, Office of Advancement, 13406 Philadelphia Street, PO Box 634, Whittier, CA 90608; checks should note Martin Ortiz Endowed Scholarship.

Memorial Service Program*

Prelude - "O Magnum Mysterium"** by Cesar Carrillo

Welcome & Quaker Tradition President Sharon D. Herzberger

Opening Prayer & Moment of Silence Pastor Rex Jones

A Message from the Board of Trustees A.J. Villalobos '65

Scripture Reading Aracely Valenzuela '92, M.Ed. '93

Scripture Reading Nadine Barragan '09 Jennice Ontiveros '09

Choir — "A Prayer" by Joshua B. Himes

La Vida de Martin Ortiz '48 — Alex Tenorio '74

Sharing of Memories

David Lizarraga 
Frank Quevedo 
Victor Franco

On Behalf of the Family John Ortiz, Martin's brother 

"El Jefe": A Video Tribute by Rich Cheatham '68

Closing Prayer Pastor Jones

Postlude — "The Pasture" by Z. Randall Stroope