Former Pueblo quarterback and Pima Athletic Director Larry Toledo passes awayby Andy Morales on Aug. 12, 2012, under Sports
Lawrence (Larry) Ralph Toledo
(71) April 25, 1941-August 11, 2012
Larry Toledo was much more than just the former Pima College athletic director. He became a mentor and a friend to hundreds, if not thousands, of young men and women in Southern Arizona.
He was a part of Pima College even before the college had a home.
The school opened in 1970 as part of a vision to help educate the growing population of Pima County and Toledo was an integral part of that vision. The first classrooms were held in empty hangars at the airport while construction on the far west side was being completed.
The Citizen’s Corky Simpson interviewed Toledo just a couple of days before Toledo retired in 1997 and this is what Toledo had to say about the first few days at Pima:
”It was kind of noisy, but full of energy…But the original Pima campus was the airport…We were so caught up in all the activity that we were blind to the shortcomings – the strange facilities for a college, the jets overhead and the weird environment…This was the beginning of a new idea in Tucson, and we were thrilled to be working with the kids and with the community in general. Yeah, the airport was a funny place for a campus, but we knew it was temporary and it didn’t bother us.”
Toledo was an All-State quarterback at Pueblo High School (1955-59), good enough to play the position on college at Palo Verde College in Blythe, California and California Western in San Diego and good enough to be drafted by the San Diego Chargers.
He taught at a few schools after that, including a brief stint at Pueblo, before moving on to Pima and he became an obvious choice to run the athletic department there in 1972.
Former Pima and New Mexico baseball coach Rich Alday also spoke with Simpson in 1997 and he spoke fondly of those early days and of Toledo:
”We struggled early, getting our feet on the ground. We didn’t have a field of our own, and we had to hustle to get places to practice and play….Through it all, Larry was a tremendous help. He’s not an athletic director who just tells you what to do. He sits down and talks things over with his people…He understands and he’s understanding…Larry has worked harder than anybody could imagine at that school. I don’t believe it is understood in Tucson, how much Larry Toledo has meant to Pima College, to Tucson and Southern Arizona.”
After retiring from Pima, Toledo worked with his sons, Chris and Pablo, to form H.O.P.E. (Helping Our People Excel) Street Productions and they produced their signature film called “Runnin’ at Midnite.”
He almost always identified himself as a film producer in his many Letters to the Editor to the local newspapers. Most of those letters were written on behalf of social justice.
Toledo was only 56 when he retired some 15 years ago. It seems like one would need many, many more years to make the kind of positive impact he did for our community.
He was voted into the Pima County Sports Hall of Fame in 1991 and the National Athletic Directors Hall of Fame in 2010.
According to reports, Toledo suffered what appeared to be a heart attack while driving in the Three Points area Saturday morning.
His last posting on his Facebook page was a birthday wish to his departed mother dated exactly one week prior to his own death. He wrote to her, ” Feliz Cumpleanos Mom (8/5)
The Toledo clan misses you! Con mucho carino LT.”
Our friend Larry is now safe by her side.