Larry Toledo served as the first athletic director in Pima Community College history and worked tirelessly behind the scenes as a community leader in Tucson, plus as a film producer.
He was one of my favorite conversationalists, whether it was for a story or an everyday chat.
Just days after I returned to Tokyo from the London Olympics, Toledo died. It was sad news for all those who admired him, respected him and loved him.
His legacy lives on in his family and many friends, in the community and through those who carry on his work and ideals.
My brief thoughts on Toledo last August upon learning of Toledo’s death follow.
Larry Toledo was a terrific athletic director — passionate, smart, a real leader. And he always saw the big picture of how sports played an important role in a community’s identity and in the relationships that are forged from generation to generation because of sports. He cared deeply about people, about giving those born without a silver spoon a chance. He cared about academics about social justice, about hard work, about enjoying the company of people.
Many years ago, 1997 to be precise, I wrote a cover story for the Phoenix Suns’ Fastbreak Magazine on Horacio Llamas, the first Mexican-born player in the NBA. Toledo, front and center, was a terrific primary and second source, with all the tidbits and story angles I needed — and many more. Larry, former Pima hoop coach Mike Lopez and I had a great afternoon, telling stories and eating tortilla chips with salsa for the magazine interview. It didn’t seem like work, I’ll tell you that. We had a good rapport, but it extended far beyond my coverage of Pima Community College athletics. Larry always seemed happy to see someone pursuing their passions; for me, that was a career in sports journalism.
We lost touch over the past few years, but I had thought just the other day I should surprise him and send a postcard from London. He remained in my memory and I know in the minds of countless others. And I knew he’d get a kick out of that planned postcard.
Larry Toledo leaves a special legacy.