“Louis Escobar was an outstanding public servant, but more
importantly, he was an even better person. When we served
together on Toledo City Council, he was someone I looked up to
and respected,” wrote Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz on
social media. “He was a true trailblazer and leaves behind a
legacy few can match. This is a great loss for Toledo.”
Escobar actively worked toward social justice within the Latino
community, devoting a lot of his time to causes and concerns
such as education, healthcare, diversity, and cultural
competence. He, along with his close friend, political activist
Connie Eason, received a Diamante Award in 2002.
“I'm deeply grieved by the loss of our dear friend and great
public servant Louis Escobar,” echoed longtime friend
on her Facebook page. “My
heart is heavy by his passing. He was a great man and friend to
Toledo and loved all who were fortunate to have crossed paths
with his beautiful spirit. May you get the much-needed, peaceful
_Altenberger stated Escobar was known for saying what he meant
and meaning what he said,
no matter the cost, which sometimes angered political
During a 2001 Toledo visit by then-U.S. president George W.
Bush and Mexico president Vicente Fox to highlight
improved ties on trade and law enforcement, and some progress on
legalizing some of the 3.5 million migrant farmworkers in the
U.S., Escobar called it as he saw it to the New York Times.
“'Let's get real, it's a photo op,”' he said at the time. “I
want to see some action. I want to see dollars for programs.”
“Louis and I changed each other’s lives. We helped each other
get more centered,” Altenberger said. “We used to have
arguments. He drove me nuts and I drove him nuts. But we worked
at it. We learned how to communicate with each other even when
we were aggravated.”
Most of Escobar’s career was devoted to public service—five
years as a Catholic priest, as a jail counselor, as a probation
officer, as a
facilitator/director of a self-help group for people living with
and as a substance abuse counselor. He also ran a homeless
shelter and served as interim coordinator at the University
of Toledo’s Multicultural Student Center.
As the executive director of Adelante, Inc., Escobar
doubled the social service nonprofit’s budget, introduced
innovative, culturally-sensitive programs, and was instrumental
in coordinating Adelante’s fifth year anniversary celebration
and in creating César E. Chávez Humanitarian Awards
Escobar himself was awarded the César E. Chávez Humanitarian
Award at the 2010 ceremony.
“As an elected
official, he combined this experience with his leadership and
commitment to provide a needed voice on [Toledo] City Council
for those who would otherwise not be heard including senior
citizens, the disabled, minorities, the unemployed, and
underemployed,” then-Adelante executive director Sonia Troche
said at the time.
“He was in and out of so many communities and everybody knew him
and saw his drive and commitment and heart,” recalled
former Fair Housing Center director, who now lives in
Hawaii, worked closely with Escobar when he was board chairman
at the nonprofit.
we shared a deep passion for human rights. We even made a
memorable trip to Memphis to tour the civil rights landmarks,”
he wrote on Facebook. “Kelly, you were a devoted and caring
partner. May God bring you peace and comfort during your time of
sorrow and loss.
“There’s one thing that I will
never forget that…from a fair housing perspective at least, was
one of Louis’ greatest achievements. He wrote and passed the
City of Toledo’s Human Rights Ordinance. Passed in the late
1990s, this legislation made it illegal to discriminate in
housing and employment against someone based on sexual
orientation and gender identity,” said Marsh.
Escobar served on a number of other boards and commissions,
including: The Northwest Ohio Area Office on Aging and
the Northwest State Community College Foundation, among
_Escobar was born January 27, 1950,
at the former Riverside Hospital. He grew up on Indiana Ave. in
a predominantly Polish neighborhood and attended St. Anthony’s
Catholic Church as a youth. According to Altenberger, Escobar
decided he wanted to become a priest at the age of 12.
“Whether he still had the collar or not, he had the sense of
community and service in the name of God,” said Altenberger. “He
never, ever lost that. The greatest achievement of his life has
to be that he helped people and he was effective at helping
Escobar is a 1968 graduate of Central Catholic High School,
receiving a bachelor of arts degree from St. Mary’s College in
1972, a Master of Divinity from SS. Cyril and Methodius Seminary
in 1976, and a master’s degree from the University of Detroit in
Escobar is survived by his life-partner of 32 years, Kelly
Altenberger; his mother, Nancy; brothers, Victor and John
Escobar, stepbrother, James; foster brother, Joseph Campos, Jr.,
and numerous nieces and nephews.
A funeral Mass is being scheduled for Sts Peter and Paul
Catholic Church, Toledo. Arrangements are being handled by W.K.
Sujkowski & Son Funeral Home on Airport Hwy.
Editor’s Note: Web photos taken at Louis Escobar’s 70th
birthday party at Real Seafood Company restaurant on January 27,