SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Utahns are mourning the loss of long-time community activist Robert “Archie” Archuleta after he passed away Friday at the age of 88.
The Mayor’s office said Archuleta will be remembered for his decades-long work on behalf of those experiencing homelessness, Chicanos and other communities of color, LGBTQ people, and women.
Archie Archuleta and and his wife Lois were given the the “Keys to the City” award in October by Mayor Jackie Biskupski who highlighted the couple’s long history of volunteerism and advocacy with organizations like Utah Coalition of La Raza, Head Start, Crossroads Urban Center, Centro Civico, American G.I. Forum, and others, saying this work has built a support structure for some of the most marginalized in our community and has inspired generations of leaders.
Archuelta was appointed as the administrative assistant for minority and community affairs by Mayor Rocky Anderson in 2000.
After hearing of Archuleta’s death, Biskupski said their entire office is mourning the loss of their friend and Salt Lake City activist.
“Archie was a mentor to me and many others on my staff,” said Biskupski. “Wherever Archie went his smile would light up a room and behind that smile, was the mind and soul of a fierce advocate for equality. Archie was an early supporter of mine and the entire LGBTQ community in Utah, helping to bridge the gap between civil rights movements in Salt Lake City.”
Biskupski further sated through Archie’s example and work, he gave a voice to marginalized people, reminded those in power of their responsibility to build inclusive communities, and encouraged others to stand-up and act.
“I will miss his smile, his hugs, and his quiet words of encouragement which brought me comfort and strength,” said Biskupski. “Our thoughts are with his wife and children as they mourn the loss of their husband and father.”
Several others in the community offered their words of support to the Archuleta family.
“Archie was the epitome of a mensch—a good person, a person of integrity,” said Deputy Chief of Staff, David Litvack. “He led by example; he taught many of us what it means to be a fierce advocate for justice, fairness and equality. Most importantly, he showed me how to be a warrior for justice by building bridges and lifting people up – not tearing anyone down. He will be sorely missed!”
Director of Community Empowerment, Jennifer Seelig said Archuleta taught her that her authentic Rose Park self was, and remains, my most powerful source of strength in my role as a warrior for SLC’s westside.
“When you’re in public office people often wish for you to exist in their own image,” said Seelig. “Archie reminded me that who I am is who I am meant to be, even when my Wonder Woman cape has a bit of leftover breakfast cereal on it. I couldn’t have done it without him.”
Salt Lake City School District Superintendent Dr. Lexi Cunningham also released a statement on Archuleta’s passing:
“Archie Archuleta was not only a fierce activist, a community leader, and a role model for all of us in Salt Lake City, but also an example of genuine kindness to all around him. His work as a civil rights leader is legendary, and as a former educator in the Salt Lake City School District, he has left a lasting legacy. Even in his final years, he always sought to leave Salt Lake City and the state of Utah a better place for the marginalized and for those who would come after him. I count myself privileged to have been able to associate with him. On behalf of the leadership and employees of the Salt Lake City School District, I extend my deepest condolences to Archie’s family, friends, and his many, many loved ones.”