Hector Riollano retired after 30 years as director of community schools and assistant principal in Waterbury schools. Yet, every morning post-retirement he still headed to Carrington Elementary School to meet the school children when they stepped off their school buses and headed to class. Just as important, he wanted to continue facilitating communication with parents and encouraging their involvement in their children’s education.
Said his wife, Dolores, “Hector was completely committed to kids getting an education, and he wanted to do anything he could to encourage them to stay in school. He thought that education was the key to everything.”
Hector, a native of Puerto Rico who earned degrees in social work and academic administration, was also keenly sensitive to the unique experiences of Latino youth.
“Hector mentored so many kids! Over the years, we had a cadre of young men– many of them Hispanic – who lived at our house while they were getting through high school,” Dolores said.
They earned their diplomas with a big boost from Hector and the stability the Riollano home offered. “They were good kids!” she remarked. “Now all are in their 20’s and not in trouble.”
Even when battling cancer, Hector urged Dolores to get involved with Connecticut Community Foundation’s grants committee. An accomplished and dedicated educator in her own right (she retired as the assistant to the vice president for academic affairs at Post College in Waterbury), he told her, “You are going to love it, and you’ll learn so much about the community and its needs.”
“When he died, I wanted to memorialize Hector and his commitment to education and I knew the needs were many,” said Dolores. So, through the Foundation, she created the Hector Riollano Fund for Education to assist young people in Waterbury with academics.
“We met on the Waterbury Green and we lived and worked in Waterbury for many years,” she said, “and those memories are so important.”
Thanks to Dolores, Hector Riollano’s memory and legacy will surely endure in the students of Waterbury for generations to come.
[Photos courtesy of Dolores Riollano]