The news that Pete Moraga had died of a sudden heart attack on September 27, 2003, took the Latino media around the US completely by surprise. Pete had been a true pioneer in the media, opening doors and leading the way as a proud descendant of Mexicans, back when it wasn?t so ?cool? to be Latino.
The first in his family to graduate from college, Pete Moraga started his journalism career at KIFN, Arizona?s first all Spanish radio, after serving his country in the US Navy during WW II.
His many professional achievements included a Golden Mike from the Radio & Television News Association, the Hispanic Role Model of the Year, the Mexican American Opportunities Foundation Golden Aztec, the Nosotros Golden Eagle, the Good Scout Award, and in 2001 he was inducted in the National Association of Hispanic Journalists Hall of Fame.
In spite of his amazing success, Pete always remained humble. His gentle manner left a long-lasting positive impression on everyone he came in contact with.
In June of next year he would have celebrated 50 years of a happy marriage with Gloria, the love of his life. His children, grandchildren, and a multitude of friends and family will miss him.
As part of the American Heart Association?s team, I am reminded every day of the devastation cardiovascular disease, the number one killer of Latinos in the United States, brings to our families every day. But you never get used to it, and when a dear friend is taken, it breaks your heart.
I knew Pete when he was News Director at KMEX-TV in Los Angeles. I was a na?ve young girl with big dreams working as a receptionist in his newsroom. Pete saw in me the desire to do more and encouraged me to go after my goals. At first he allowed me to write the weather report for the news, and later to translate simple news items from the wire services. Pretty soon I was entrusted with formatting the entire news broadcast. Under Pete?s guidance and encouragement, I decided to go back to school to study journalism and story writing.
Pete was always patient, easy with his criticism and generous with his praise. By the time I left KMEX I had joined the production team as a writer, researcher, and field producer. Pete?s door was always wide open, as was his heart.
Extremely professional, and yet so human!
I kept in touch with Pete and Gloria, even after they retired and moved to Arizona. I was honored to be counted among their friends.
A heart attack took my dear friend and all I can do is honor his memory and hope that we all see the day when we can conquer this devastating disease by spreading the word in our community, just like Pete showed me.
Edie J. Herons-Adler:
Edie J. Herons-Adler is a regular contributor to LatinoLA, and the Latino Media Director at the American Heart Assocition. For more information on heart disease and stroke, please visit http://www.americanheart.org