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Founding Board Chair Esteban Torres Dies

LA Plaza today mourns the passing of its founding chairman Esteban Torres, who died of natural causes yesterday just two days short of his 92nd birthday.

Esteban led a distinguished life of service as a community organizer, labor leader, ambassador to UNESCO, Special Assistant to President Jimmy Carter and eight-term member of Congress from the Norwalk area. A Korean War veteran, Torres was also an accomplished artist and linguist who spoke five languages. He and his wife Arcy raised five children.

In Congress, Torres fought to clean up one of the country’s largest hazardous waste sites in his district; updated the country’s consumer credit reporting systems; and worked with colleagues on both sides of the aisle on behalf of those most in need.

He guided LA Plaza through its formative years working hand-in-hand with LA County Supervisor Gloria Molina. In 2006, the LA Unified School District named a high school in Boyle Heights in his name, and in 2020, UCLA awarded him the UCLA Medal, the university’s highest honor. He is survived by his wife, five children, 12 grandchildren, and 7 grandchildren.

He will always be known as a man dedicated to serving others and as a champion of the people. To view a video of Esteban’s life, please visit

Rest in peace and power our friend and leader.