Passing of Rosario Anaya

Ms. Rosario Anaya

Passing of Rosario Anaya

On behalf of the family of Rosario Anaya, and MLVS' Board of Directors, we want to thank you for your condolences and prayers. Rosario's family has decided to hold a private service, and has asked the MLVS Board to organize the public services, to honor the life, work, and legacy of Rosario Anaya.

PUBLIC SERVICES for Ms. Anaya will take place on Saturday, September 19, 2015, from 11am-4pm at the Mission Dolores church, Mass will be from 11am-1pm, with a  reception to follow in the community room.

Free valet parking wil be available from 10:15am until 4:15pm, in front of the basilica on Dolores Street at 16th Street. Also, street parking will be reserved along Dolores Street between 14th and 17th Streets from 11am-4pm. Parking is allowed on the center island.


MLVS thanks everyone for their support, strength, and work during this difficult time. 

Please read a beautiful obituary published in Mission Local:

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you please consider making a donation to the Rosario Anaya Scholarship Fund (RASF). 



On behalf of MLVS’ Board of Directors, staff, and students, it is with great sadness that we are announcing the sudden passing of Rosario Anaya to cancer. As you know, Rosario was the Executive Director of MLVS for over 40 years – a pillar of the Latino community in the Mission district, San Francisco, and throughout California.

Rosario’s legacy cannot be understated, centered on the empowerment, advocacy, and continual fight for Latinos and underserved communities. She inspired hundreds of thousands through her work: as the first Latina elected to public office in San Francisco, as a member and then president of the School Board; to her pivotal role in massive campaigns and coalitions for social and economic justice; to sitting down one-to-one just a few months ago with a young Latina entering MLVS’ Medical Assisting program. With sitting Mayors from Moscone, Alioto, and Agnos, to Newsom and the Honorable Mayor Lee, Rosario became a voice for many that otherwise may not have been heard.

Those of us who were fortunate enough to know Rosario will remember her enduring class, the dignity in which she fought, and her nonstop, unapologetic advocacy for some of the most at-risk populations in the Bay Area. MLVS wishes to express its thought and tribute to you; for without your support, sponsorship, partnership, friendship, and care, none of the school’s accomplishments or Rosario’s vision for empowering la gente would be possible. Thank you again for all of your support and consideration over the years. MLVS will carry on its mission, advocacy, and essential programs and services in Rosario’s spirit.

We look forward to paying formal tribute to Rosario in the near future, and are buoyed in her passing by your friendship and support. In lieu of flowers or gifts, it is the expressed desire of Rosario’s family that any donation be made to the Rosario Anaya Scholarship Fund (RASF) for Latinos and Latinas in the Mission. Checks may be mailed to this fund at 2929 – 19th Street, San Francisco, CA 94110, or you may click on the button below.

¡Viva Rosario! Con alma, con corazón.

Rosario Anaya — strong supporter of education for immigrants

Photo: Beck Diefenbach, Special To The Chronicle

In this 2011 photo, U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (right) thanks Rosario Anaya after a meeting with Mission District small business owners in San Francisco.

Ms. Anaya, the first Latina elected to public office in San Francisco, died of lung cancer on Aug. 5. She was 70.

“She was a true friend to our city, a champion for the Mission District and an advocate for our diverse communities,” San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said in a statement.

Born on Oct. 7, 1944 in Cochabamba, Bolivia, a university city within sight of the Andes Mountains, Ms. Anaya settled in Oakland with her family in 1961 when she was 17.

She soon became involved in advocacy work for low-income families in San Francisco, and before she turned 30, Ms. Anaya was named executive director of the nonprofit Mission Language Vocational School.

During her 42-year tenure, Ms. Anaya transformed the program that offered mainly English instruction for Latinos into a broader vocational training school for all immigrants, with classes in medical assisting, clerical skills and computer, culinary, business and pharmacy skills. About 300 students graduate each year.

“She was a trailblazer,” said her friend Sandy Close, executive director of the ethnic news coalition New American Media, where Ms. Anaya was an active board member for nearly 20 years.

Ms. Anaya became the first Latina to serve on the San Francisco school board in 1977 when Mayor George Moscone appointed her to fill a vacant seat. The next year, when voters elected her to the same seat, she became the first woman of Latin American descent elected to public office in city history.

She served for 12 years on the school board, including two terms as president. In 1989, when school district administrators revealed that black children accounted for nearly 75 percent of all suspensions yet were only 20 percent of enrollment, Ms. Anaya urged the administration to develop a long-range plan for black students and back it up with adequate funding.

“When you have a family and a child that’s sick, you have to spend more money on the child that’s sick until he gets well,” Ms. Anaya said at the time.

Educated at the University of San Francisco, she received a bachelor’s degree in public administration and a master’s in counseling and psychology.

Ms. Anaya supported the United Farm Workers and worked with Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition during the 1980s. She campaigned to rename Army Street for labor leader Cesar Chavez in the 1990s, and helped found the annual parade and festival in his honor. In 2010, then-Mayor Gavin Newsom appointed her to the San Francisco Redevelopment Commission (now the Commission on Community Investment and Infrastructure), which oversaw affordable housing.

A public mass and reception for Ms. Anaya will be from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 19, at Mission Dolores, 3321 16th St., San Francisco.

The Rosario Anaya Scholarship Fund for Latinos and Latinas in the Mission has been set up at the Mission Language and Vocational School, 2929 19th St., San Francisco, CA 94110.

Nanette Asimov is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: Twitter: @NanetteAsimov



MLVS' History

In 1962, a group of Mexican laborers gave a different meaning to the concept of building a community-based organization. Realizing the need for education and job training, these self-starting, community activists established the “Centro Social Obrero,” which later became the Mission Language and Vocational School (MLVS) in 1968.

The 35,000-square-foot facility, located at 2929 19th Street, was converted from a warehouse to a fully functioning school. In 1965, MLVS pioneered the Bay Area’s first Vocational English as a Second Language (VESL) program. After incorporation in 1971, the school was able to purchase the building and expand its instructional programs. Throughout the 1970s, MLVS was a member of the Mission Coalition, a group of 150 grassroots organizations working together to improve the quality of education, healthcare, and other services for neighborhood residents.

Today, MLVS offers programs in the fields of healthcare, culinary arts, and clerical, and its facilities have expanded to include twenty classrooms, a testing unit, administrative offices and a media center, fully equipped computer and medical office simulation classrooms, kitchen facilities for culinary classes, and a multi-purpose computer center.

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