Raul H Castro  (June 12, 1916 - April 10, 2015)

Raúl Héctor Castro overcame hardship and discrimination to rise to the highest levels of government. As a graduate of the James E. Rogers College of Law and a passionate supporter of the Center for Latin American Studies in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Castro has been a treasured member of the University of Arizona community for decades. His manuscript collection is also housed in the UA Libraries.

In Memory of Raul H. Castro

Biography of Raul Castro

Born in Sonora, Mexico, in 1916, Castro was one of 14 children. His family moved near Douglas, Arizona, in 1926, and Castro attended Douglas High School, where he played football, edited the school newspaper, and graduated with honors.

Castro attended Arizona State Teacher’s College (now Northern Arizona University) on a football scholarship, graduating in 1939, the same year he became a U.S. citizen. He applied for a teaching position in Douglas but was denied because the school board voted not to hire teachers of Mexican descent. Disappointed, he stowed away in railroad boxcars and traveled the country.

Castro eventually found employment as a foreign service clerk for the U.S. State Department. He worked in Sonora, Mexico, where he was often the U.S. representative for Americans jailed in Mexico. The experience motivated him to apply to the UA College of Law. He taught Spanish at the UA while in law school and graduated with a J.D. degree in 1949. 

After graduation, Castro practiced law for five years, was a Pima Country attorney from 1955-1959, and served as a judge of the Pima County Superior Court from 1959-1964. President Johnson appointed Castro as U.S. ambassador to El Salvador from 1964 to 1968 and as ambassador to Bolivia from 1968 to 1969.

Castro made history in 1974 when he became the first and only Mexican-American to be elected Governor of Arizona. After completing two years of his four-year term as governor, Castro was chosen by President Jimmy Carter to be ambassador to Argentina, a post he held until 1980, when he returned to Arizona to resume practicing immigration law and international law until he retired in 2003.


Raul H. Castro: Two Cultures, Many Challenges

UA Special Collections

This collection contains photographs and documents regarding Raul H. Castro’s life and career. The collection documents his political career including his early legal practice, judgeship, each of his three ambassadorships, campaigning for Jimmy Carter and his tenure as governor of Arizona. The original photographs and documents are part of the Raul H. Castro Papers housed at University of Arizona Libraries Special Collections. Visit Special Collections website.


Please post your remembrances
of Raul Castro

  • My wife Zandra Flemister served her first tour as a Foreign Service Officer in Ambassador Castro's Embassy in Argentina. This was a particularly difficult time in U.S.- Argentine relations. Argentina was under a military dictatorship and Ambassador Castro was under instructions by President Carter to press the Argentine government to respect human rights. This resulted in systematic harassment of members of the Embassy including my wife. After she, another Embassy officer and an Argentine employee were attacked near the Embassy by Air Force secret police Ambassador Castro personally delivered a protest to the Argentine Foreign Ministry. Although his efforts to bring the attackers to justice failed the point was made.
    - John Collinge
  • Though I've since worked in many a campaign, I'm proud that "Castro For Governor" was my very first. I was 13 and devoted the better part of the summer to it, working out of a dark little office on Broadway, taking the bus all over town to deliver yard signs, and making my first "pre-robo" calls to get out the vote. The lessons I learned that summer continue to inspire me, and I still believe that civic participation is an individual obligation, just as Governor Castro taught me. I was able to tell him about that summer some 45 years later when he spoke at the law school's graduation. I was able to thank him for the respect he showed to everyone working for him that long hot summer. I told him how much I admired the way he governed and how his life was an inspiration to so many of us. As one would expect, he was self-effacing and kind. He was a great man.
    - Nancy Stanley
  • While I never had the opportunity to meet Governor Castro, I have heard many great stories about his charismatic persona. Clearly, he is a beloved role model for Latino leaders in our community, and he will be missed.
    - Jenn

The Center for Latin American Studies is proud to administer the
Raúl H. Castro Scholarship Fund.
You may donate to the fund through the University of Arizona Foundation.

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