Both Richard T. Castro (MSW ’72) and his widow, Virginia M. Castro (MSW ’73), left an indelible stamp on the community. Beaten by Denver police during a 1960s confrontation, and later wounded by gunfire from political rivals who also bombed his home, Rich Castro emerged as an early leader in El Movimiento, Denver’s transformative Chicano movement. He went on to become one of Colorado’s most important political figures, serving in Colorado’s House of Representatives for ten years, as a member of the Denver Public Schools (DPS) Board of Education and as Executive Director of Denver’s Agency for Human Rights and Community Relations until his untimely death in 1991.
Virginia Castro’s career as a DPS social worker began the year after she earned her MSW and continued for the next 28 years. While working at West High School, she created the city’s first program for teen moms, contracting with a nearby daycare center to care for the babies while their mothers attended class. As Manager of DPS Social Work Services from 1991 to 2001, Virginia founded a successful citywide truancy-reduction program. Subsequently appointed by the Mayor to Denver’s Commission on Mental Health and Department of Human Services Advisory Board, Virginia received a DPS Service Award and was honored by the National Association of Social Workers as a School Social Worker of Distinction.
Richard T. Castro Memorial Scholarships, from a GSSW endowed scholarship fund initiated by Virginia Castro, have assisted some 30 MSW students since 1991. A DPS elementary school and the Denver Department of Human Services building are named in Rich Castro’s honor.