Julius Rivera was born December 4, 1917 in Timaná, Colombia and lived a full life with his family and community until his death on February 19, 2014.
He is survived by his beloved wife of more than half a century, Linda Rose Gerstenberger Rivera and children Lisa Carol Rivera (Kumar Bipin Amin), Julian Lynn Rivera (Melanie Lynn Gantt), and Marcos Gerard Rivera who gathered by his side during a brief and merciful final illness at home. Four beautiful granddaughters brought joy and love to his life: Lakshmi Rivera Amin, Lekha Rivera Amin, Liliana Rose Rivera, and Lola Grace Rivera. His surviving brother is Carlos Enrique Rivera of Timaná.
Celebrated as a scholar of integrity and as a full-hearted, eloquent supporter of justice and civil liberties, Julius’ life’s work brought opportunity for students and other members of his communities to view the world as critical thinkers and intelligent citizens. He was passionate and thoughtful about higher education and civic life. He embraced learning even in his final days of life.
Julius was a Professor Emeritus at the University of Texas at El Paso. He also taught at Texas Tech University, the University of Arizona, and the University of Houston. He held graduate degrees from Colombian universities, the University of Detroit, and a PhD from Michigan State University. He was instrumental in establishing the Lifelong Learning (OLLI) program at the University of Texas at El Paso and was a sustaining contributor to that program through his 80s. His generous contributions to the fields of sociology and anthropology are reflected in numerous publications including editions of Latin America: A Sociocultural Interpretation and a collection of his poetry, Poemas y Evocación.
Always curious about the world, Julius and Linda traveled extensively and among their children’s favorite memories are journeys to many countries with their parents. He never failed to engage and connect with locals, explore off the beaten paths and immerse himself in the culture of the places they visited. He was a Fulbright Scholar in Santiago, Chile, and served the National Science Foundation in various capacities as well as organizations committed to international border issues and peace across the world.
Toward the end of his life, despite serious problems with his vision, Julius remained current with world events, citing information and data from multilingual sources of news, academic writings and literature. Despite serious problems with his hearing, he continued to seek ideas, conversation, and intellectual stimulation. He challenged simplistic argument and was passionate about poetry and music. Reciting poems and singing songs in Spanish began his mornings and that intelligent, optimistic outlook enriched his household.
His love for his family was complete and the center of his life. Julius leaves a legacy of commitment and independent thinking. This led to many spirited dinner table conversations, always infused with laughter and respect.
In honor of his lifelong appreciation for strong research libraries and appreciation for the librarians who supported his curiosity, donations in his memory may be made to the University of Texas at El Paso Library, 500 West University, El Paso, 79902.
A memorial service will be held at Remembrance Gardens in Austin, his recently adopted hometown, at two in the afternoon on April 18, 2014.