A leading source for news and analysis about Mexico and the U.S.-Mexican border.
By David Gaddis Smith
Tijuana Historical Society President Sergio Vázquez Ruiz, who died last month at age 81, was gruff yet charming, a man who wanted the city's story told.
He was originally from Veracruz, yet plunged headfirst into the history of Tijuana. He was elected president of the society for a two-year term, then elected to another. He was well thought of enough that he later was elected president again.
A memorial service at the historical society the week of his death was attended by more 100 people, including Tijuana Councilwoman Franciscana Krauss and Coparmex President Jorge Escalante.
Vázquez Ruiz also had a charming wife, Norma, quite willing to let you know how her sister Yolanda was Miss Mexico 1955.
On Thursday, Vázquez Ruiz's life was told by Iván de Jesús Vázquez Francechy at the fifth annual Tijuana History Symposium held by the Tijuana Archive.
Archive director Gabriel Rivera said that Vázquez's interest in the history of Tijuana may have stemmed from his seeking a common identity with other Tijuana residents. After all, Tijuana is a city of migrants.
Vázquez had moved around more than most: He was born in Veracruz, but his father, who worked for the federal government, moved the family to Cuernavaca, Mexico City, Torreón, Monterrey, and then to Tijuana, where he was a top federal official dealing with industry and commerce. Vázquez Ruiz told Vázquez Francechy that his father had a fervent desire to move to Tijuana that he never quite understood.
Vázquez Ruiz had planned to become a doctor, and had been admitted to the National School of Medicine in Mexico City, but a strike there canceled the school year in 1948. Under pressure from and with the help of his father, he then switched to studying chemical engineering at the National Polytechnical Institute in the capital.
He later became became chief of a department inspecting milk entering Mexico City, and worked as a food and drink inspector during the 1950s.
In 1959, he was named to inspect fish bound for San Diego, working in San Diego and living in Tijuana. His boss, Idelfonso Veláaquez, became mayor of Tijuana in 1962. Vázquez Ruiz became a top aide in his administration, eventually being put in charge of public works, and also of school lunches. Vázquez Ruiz worked in the administration along with Conrado Acevedo, who paid homage to Vázquez Ruiz at the history symposium Thursday. A minute of silence also was held in Vázquez Ruiz's honor.
He later went to work for the federal electricity commission at age 38, getting the job even though the vacancy advertised for people 35 and under. He worked at the Rosarito power plant for more than 30 years.
In Tijuana he met and married Norma Mayen, daughter of a man from Sinaloa and a woman from Santa Rosalía, Baja California Sur. She and their son, Adrián Vázquez Mayen, were given a plaque honoring Sergio Vázquez Ruiz's contributions Thursday by the head of the Municipal Institute for Arts and Culture, Elsa Arnaiz.
Photo: Norma Mayen and Adrián Vázquez Mayen on Thursday.
Mario Ortiz Villacorta column on Vázquez Ruiz. Ortiz Villacorta has succeeded Vázquez Ruiz as historical society president.