Department of Spanish and Portuguese

College of Letters & Science

Roberto Sanchez, prolific and influential professor in our Department, passed away on August 15, 2016

Roberto Sanchez, prolific and influential professor in our Department, passed away on August 15, 2016

Roberto Garza Sánchez was born in San Antonio, on September 24, 1922. He joined the UW faculty ranks in 1950. He was tenured in 1955 and promoted to Full Professor in 1963. Roberto was a prolific and influential scholar, and his service contributions were wide-ranging and meaningful. His most lasting legacy in S&P was the culture of theatre and performance he actively fostered for over three decades. Not only did he direct the Department’s annual Spanish and Spanish-American play, bringing together students, faculty and staff as actors, stagehands, technicians, and wardrobe supervisors, but he was also an exceptionally gifted drama teacher. The plays Roberto directed drew regular and enthusiastic audiences of UW faculty and students as well as high-school Spanish classes from Madison and surrounding communities. He retired in 1984 and moved to Santa Barbara in 2002.

His family having instilled in him a belief in the dignity and singular worth of education, Roberto strove to provide Latino/a K-12 and first-generation students attending two-year colleges or transferring to UW-Madison the opportunity to pursue their post-secondary education. Our own department has for several years been extremely fortunate to experience first-hand his spirit of giving through a Theatre and Distinguished Lectureship Fund, whose aim is to provide financial support for guest lectures dealing with theatre and performance, dramatic productions, performances and academic symposia.

Roberto cherished education above all. More than a profession, for Roberto, teaching was a calling, and his philanthropy will benefit public education well into the future. “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops,” Henry Adams famously said. No one embodies the abiding truth these words express more completely than Roberto, who passed away on August 15, 2016, in Santa Barbara, at the age of 93. We miss him profoundly, but his memory will endure for countless years to come.