Aureliano Sandoval Ruiz, a counselor who advocated for Latino students on campus and served as a mentor and advisor to youth, died Aug. 1 at his home in Riverside. He was 71.
Ruiz served as a counselor in the Department of Counseling and Psychological Services for 34 years before retiring in 2005.
Dao Nguyen, a clinical psychologist and training coordinator for Student Health and Counseling Services, recalled that the department staff nominated Ruiz for counselor emeritus status, an honor he received in 2006. Nguyen, who was hired in 2002, said that Ruiz was dedicated to working with students and their families.
“He was very sweet,” she said. “He was a very kind and gentle person, and he had a great sense of humor.”
Ruiz was born in Corona and raised in Ontario. He was a social worker and a licensed marriage, family and child counselor. The Pomona Catholic Boys School alumnus earned both his bachelor’s degree in Spanish and his master’s in counseling from Cal State Fullerton.
During his tenure, the Division of Student Affairs recognized Ruiz as an exemplary employee. He supervised training therapists and served for five years as the affirmative action coordinator to enhance the diversity of Student Affairs.
Ruiz was active on campus. He helped plan and organize the university’s first Cross Cultural Retreat, an annual event that provided an opportunity for the campus community to talk openly about issues related to diversity and social justice, and build alliances across cultures.
He served in various positions, including president of the Latino Faculty, Staff and Student Association (LFSSA), and helped raise thousands of dollars for scholarships. He also was an advisor to student organizations such as Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA) and Chicanos for Creative Medicine.
Norma Leon, coordinator of educational assessment and transition, first met Ruiz when she was a student. He was always willing to help students, she said.
Leon served on the Student Affairs’ student assessment team, conducting research for the division, and Ruiz was there to guide her and offer his support.
“He’d always take the time to talk to us about why it was important to be in college and about the importance of being active with other students on campus,” Leon said. “Aureliano was very passionate about helping Latino students pursue college. He was our advocate. He did good work to pave the way for us.”
Ruiz is survived by his wife of 46 years, Roseanna; daughter and son-in-law, Rosalinda Ruiz and Louis Wischnewsky of Diamond Bar; sons Daniel Ruiz and Miguel Ruiz, both of Riverside. He is also survived by his mother-in-law, Linda Montoya; sister-in-law and brothers-in-law, Marianna and Frank Delgado, and Paul Montoya of Ontario; sister Maria Victoria “Vicky” Valdez of Anaheim; two additional siblings, several nieces, nephews, and other extended family members.
A funeral Mass will be held Thursday, Aug. 10, at 11:30 a.m. at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church, 5048 D St., Chino. The internment will follow at Bellevue Memorial Park, 1240 W. G St., Ontario.