George B. Jenkins, an associate professor emeritus who was among the first two African American full-time faculty members at Cal Poly Pomona, has passed away. He was 91.
The longtime Claremont resident came to campus in 1968 after several years as an adoptions official and juvenile probation officer for Los Angeles County. He was instrumental in developing the Department of Social Services on campus and served as department chair and field work coordinator. He retired in 1977. (Social services remained a department until 1982.)
“Dad gave us a great introduction to life and opened our eyes through his knowledge of the world, politics, education and public service,” said his daughter, Lorraine Jenkins Jones, who works in the office of student support & equity programs. “He will be missed by his family as well as the many adults, students and young people who had the pleasure of knowing him.”
Jenkins had many interests outside of education, including genealogy. A third-generation Californian and a descendant of one of the Sacramento area’s African-American pioneer families, he traced his roots to slavery and the trek to California. As a founding member of the California African American Genealogical Society, he frequently spoke and presented workshops on family history. He also developed a slide presentation, “My Boy, Nelson,” depicting the life of his great-great-grandfather Nelson Ray.
Civil rights was another passion. He worked on the political campaigns of Tom Bradley, who became a Los Angeles City Councilman and later the city’s five-term mayor. Jenkins often recalled how the Los Angeles Police Department motorcycle unit saluted Bradley in the face of protesters at the first inauguration. “I’ve waited a long time to see Tom receive this respect,” he said.
Jenkins enjoyed all genres of music, especially classical, opera and jazz. He was an accomplished violinist, learning how to play using his mother’s violin.
He is survived by his daughter Lorraine Jenkins Jones and son-in-law Craig Jones; stepson Dale Piiru and daughter-in-law Laraine Kimura-Piiru; granddaughters Wanda Dabkoska and Leanne Jones; and grandson Benjamin Piiru. Services will be May 29 in Sacramento.