Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Honoring a legendary teacher and his legacy in East L.A.

April 17, 2010 |  9:19 am

Tributes from the team

They came old and young, in Sunday best and football jerseys, some who knew Jaime Escalante, and others who knew only his legacy.

As in life, the famed math teacher, who died of bladder cancer March 30 at age 79, welcomed them all. Friday's wake in a lecture hall at Garfield High School had an atmosphere that was part memorial, part church social: somber and festive at the same time, with mortuary workers and mariachis mingling on the school's sunlit front lawn.

Students were let out of class early for the event. Scores stayed to see Escalante's casket.

The line stretched halfway across the front of the red, white and blue high school made famous in the 1988 movie "Stand and Deliver." Teenagers and former students with their own children in tow waited alongside retired teachers, swapping memories.

"He was always pressed, always in long-sleeved shirts, very formal," recalled Angela Fajardo, a former student. Fajardo, 37, now teaches herself.

"I had him for three years and I can truly say he molded me," she said.

Read the full story here.

--Jill Leovy in East Los Angeles

Members of Garfield's junior varsity football team touch Escalante's shiny black casket.
See full story (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)