By Carlos Munoz, Jr., Berkeley, CA
Armando Torres Morales, DSW
September 18, 1932 - March 12, 2008
After a long bout with cancer, Dr. Armando Morales passed away on March 12 at his home in Stevenson Ranch with his wife and family by his bedside.
Armando, the son of Lupe and Robert Morales, was born and raised in East Los Angeles. His mother served on the US Commission on Aging under President Jimmy Carter, and his father was a founding member of the East Los Angeles Community Service Organization. The Morales family was instrumental in the campaign to elect Edward Roybal to the LA City Council in 1949, which marked the birth of Latino politics in California. Following graduation from Roosevelt High School, Armando served in the military during the Korean War. His upbringing and experiences as a young man inspired his future as a scholar and social activist whose focus was helping the disenfranchised from all walks of life.
Dr. Morales achieved the rank of Professor IX, the highest level attainable, Professor of Great Distinction in Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the Neuropsychiatric Institute & Hospital, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He was appointed to the faculty in 1971 following his graduation from the USC School of Social Work where he earned his Master’s degree and became the first Latino in the nation to earn a Doctorate degree in social work. In 1966, he co-founded the first community mental health clinic for Latinos in the nation in East Los Angeles.
In 1972 he established the first “store front” satellite outpatient mental health program in California for Latino veterans as a consultant to the Veterans Administration. From 1977 to 1990, he founded and directed the first psychiatric clinic created to serve Spanish-speaking patients at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute. It was the first of its kind ever established in the entire U.C. medical system.
His textbook, Social Work: A Profession of Many Faces, 2006 (with co-author Bradford W. Sheafor), now in its eleventh edition, enjoys the distinction of being the longest surviving major textbook in the history of social work since it’s original publication in 1977 and has been used by more than 150,000 students. He is also the author of Ando Sangrando (I am Bleeding): A Study of Mexican American Police Conflict, a book considered one of the seminal works of the Chicano political movement. He was co-editor of The Psychosocial Development of Minority Group Children (Brunner/Mazel). He published nearly 90 articles, chapters, and papers on the subjects of mental health, police-community relations, social work, urban riots, homicide, suicide, filicide, gang violence, homicide intervention and prevention, and the assessment and treatment of female and male juvenile and adult offenders.
From 1975 through 1977, Armando was the President of the Board of Directors of the Western Center of Law and Poverty in Los Angeles, and while there, was a primary architect behind the landmark legal case “Serrano vs. Priest.” As a mental health consultant to parole officers and psychotherapist to parolees beginning in 1977, Dr. Morales provided over 12,000 treatment sessions to Latino, non-Hispanic white, African American and Asian American gang members and their families through his affiliation with the California Youth Authority. As an expert Superior Court witness, he testified in 40 criminal cases in California, Florida, Oregon, and Washington, including the controversial 1993 Reginald Denny beating trial in Los Angeles. Dr. Morales was also called upon as a consultant to US Senators, Congressmen, State Legislators, and Los Angeles City Councilmen.
From 1979 to 2000, Dr. Morales served as Director of the Clinical Social Work Department and Director of the Clinical Internship Training Program at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute. Outside of UCLA, beginning in 1971, he presented 429 lectures, workshops, and 85 keynote addresses at professional conferences throughout the United States, Mexico, and Spain.
A devoted family man, Armando leaves behind his wife, Dr. Cynthia Torres Morales, daughter Christina Mia, 13, two adult sons from his first marriage, Rolando and Gary, daughter-in-law Soo, 3-year old twin grandsons Vincent and Rocco, a large extended family, and many friends. He loved being a father and took special joy in his daily interaction with Christina. Active in her school and extracurricular endeavors, he was also the quintessential homework coach who took pride in her every accomplishment.
Throughout his life, Armando was an avid athlete. During his service in the Air Force in Korea, he trained as a boxer and was the undefeated Far East Air Force Bantam Weight Champion in 1952 and 1953. He was an excellent hurdler, runner, cyclist, and skater. Music was also a lifelong passion for Armando. He mastered the classical guitar, composed music, and in later life learned to play the keyboard. He performed at the Troubadour in West Hollywood as well as the Ice House in Pasadena. He especially loved to perform for friends and family.
Just before he died, Armando came close to finishing his last book, a humorous memoir of his life, closely edited by his son Rolando. Armando Morales embodied the true essence of a Renaissance Man, defined as one who sought to develop skills in all areas of knowledge, in physical development, in social accomplishments, and in the arts. He will be deeply missed by all whose lives he touched.
FUNERAL SERVICES will be held at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, 555 West Temple Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012 on Wednesday, March 26, 2008 at 9:30 AM.
Armando requested that any DONATIONS given in his honor be made to Homeboy Industries, 130 West Bruno Street, Los Angeles CA 90012. Located in Boyle Heights, the neighborhood in which Armando was raised, Homeboy Industries was founded by Father Gregory Boyle in response to the civil unrest in Los Angeles to create businesses that provide training, work experience, and above all, the opportunity for rival gang members to work side by side. “Nothing stops a bullet like a job.” Make your check out to Homeboy Industries and include a note saying the donation is made in honor of Dr. Armando Morales. You will receive a Tax ID number to use for tax deduction purposes.