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08/20/2010

Mario Obledo, Latino activist and MALDEF co-founder, dies at 78

August 20, 2010 |  6:52 am

Mario Obledo, the president of the National Coalition of Hispanic Organizations and California's former secretary of health and welfare, has died. He was 78.

Obledo died Wednesday in Sacramento after having a heart attack, said his wife, Keda Alcala-Obledo.

During his career, Obledo was known for his efforts in supporting civil rights and humanitarian causes.

In 1998 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award, the nation's highest civilian award, by President Clinton.

While serving as Gov. Jerry Brown's secretary of health and welfare from 1975 to 1982, he was credited with encouraging Latinos to enter state government.

Obledo also was co-founder of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, or MALDEF, and the Hispanic National Bar Assn.

-- Associated Press

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