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Remembering Garcia, LaFetra, Olson

In Memory is dedicated to YVC alumni, faculty and staff who have passed away. It offers a place where the YVC community can remember friends and loved ones.

Ricardo Garcia
Ricardo Garcia shares the keynote address during the 2019 Commencement Ceremony.

Ricardo Garcia
Former trustee

Garcia served as a member of YVC’s Board of Trustees from 1993 – 2001. 

He graduated from San Diego High School and joined the U.S. Army. He was stationed at Fort Ord, Calif., followed by South Korea before returning stateside to what is now Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and then the Yakima Training Center. He attended Yakima Valley College and transferred to Central Washington University where he graduated with a degree in sociology.

He spent the next 40 years in various capacities, primarily advocating for farmworker civil rights and benefits in the Yakima Valley, and championing social justice.
In 1979, he co-founded what would become his most enduring legacy, Radio KDNA, a Spanish language public radio station in Granger where he also served as manager until his retirement.

A personal highlight was when César Chávez came to Washington state in the early 1980s and, after visiting Radio KDNA, Chávez used it as a model for other stations he launched in California.

During his career, he was on the board of El Centro de la Raza in Seattle, promoting Latino visibility and equality. In 1993, he was presented with the William O. Douglas Award for lifetime achievement by the ACLU of Washington, and later that decade served on their board as well.

“He was a strong advocate for our YVC students of color and spent much of his adult life as a strong advocate for the rights of farmworkers and social justice,” said Linda Kaminski, YVC president. 

Roxanne Baca & Kathy LaFetra
Kathy LaFetra (right) and longtime friend Roxanne Baca (left) in LaFetra's home in 2007.

Kathleen LaFetra
Secretary Senior, Student Services

Kathleen ‘Kathy’ LaFetra worked in YVC’s Student Services division for over 30 years and loved her role of supporting students in their goals to graduate and achieve their dreams.

“Kathy advocated for students and energetically participated in recycling and campus beautification events,” said Leslie Blackaby, dean of student services. “One year, out of concern for our guests on their way to our outdoor Commencement ceremony, she raced to the dollar store to purchase as many plastic ponchos as were available and then assembled a team to dry the bleacher seats from an early morning rain.” 

“Because she lived close to the college, she would often invite co-workers to her home to sing Christmas carols in December,” said Linda Kaminski, YVC president. “Her favorite carol was ‘White Christmas.’ Kathy was very proud that this well-known carol was written from the point of view of a Californian. She always insisted that we sing the rarely heard verse which was intended to precede the more familiar chorus. The verse lyrics: “The sun is shining, the grass is green, the orange and palm trees sway. There’s never been such a day, in Beverly Hills, L.A.”

Kathy excelled in writing, drawing, painting and created beautiful journals of her many trips, having visited each of the seven continents on journeys with her family, friends and colleagues. She loved music, played the saxophone, piano and accordion, and could sing along with all the old Broadway show tunes.

“Kathy’s laugh, whistling, art and music touched our lives for many years both while she worked at the college and during the years after when she’d walk the campus to visit us all,” said Blackaby. “Each fall, we delighted in viewing Kathy’s slides from her international travels and hearing tales of her adventures. Her commitment to the college and its mission was unmistakable.” 

She will be remembered for her adventurous spirit, sense of humor, love of ice cream and generous heart.

Bob Olson
Bob Olson

Bob Olson
Automotive Service Technology Instructor

Bob Olson worked as a part-time instructor in YVC’s Automotive Service Technology (AST) program for a number of years, helping to mentor and lead the next generation of gearheads. In addition, he worked for many years in the local automotive industry, honing his craft and creating a valuable network for students.

“He had countless adventures and inspired students to seek out their own adventures,” says Murray Ruggles, automotive service technology instructor. “He could draw you in with his storytelling. He was great to be around and outstanding to work with, he went that extra mile for the students and the program.”

He also helped students as an advisor for the AST club and supported their yearly efforts in the SkillsUSA competition — many times taking students to competitions across the state and country.

“If not for Bob volunteering as a club advisor and helping the auto club navigate SkillsUSA, our students would not have been able to practice and prepare for the state competitions. His guidance and time were instrumental in our students earning gold medals, qualifying them for the national competition in Louisville, Kentucky, for two consecutive years (2018 – 2019) and earning honors while there,” continued Ruggles.

He will be remembered for his knack for connecting with the students and willingness to share. Colleagues agree that he was in his element in the classroom and will be deeply missed.