Let’s Talk Clovis: The Honorable Phillip V. Sanchez

U.S. Ambassador Phillip V. Sanchez.

The amazing Honorable Phillip Sanchez continues to champion his belief that education is the keystone to helping the poor and disadvantage create and sustain a better life. He states: “They need a core and the core is the classroom. They need a little guidance and a lot of encouragement.”

He is a great patriot and communicator. His New York office was near the Twin World Towers and he witnessed the carnage on 9/11. He wrote: ”I am remembering, now, the words of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as he addressed the Nation after Pearl Harbor: “Today, December 7, 1941….a day which will live in infamy…” But today, September 11, 2001, has surely taken its place, amigos. This is a new day which “will live in infamy.”

He closed by saying: “In the words of Dickens’ Tim Jim, “God bless, us, everyone.”

Phillip was born in Pinedale. His family was Mexican immigrants who worked mainly in our local fields. He was inspired by his mother (she never attended school) and Monsignor Francis X. Singleton (former rector of St. John’s Cathedral) to become educated.

Sanchez was convinced: “I could be anything I wanted to be and that an education would make me the equal of my neighbor.” He would be the only one of seven siblings to graduate from high school.

He remembers the small rural school house where the teacher taught three grades and the principal two.

Phillip (age 16) graduated from Clovis High in 1946. He was the first editor of the school’s newspaper (Cougar’s Growl).  He would become publisher of “Noticias del Mundo”, a Spanish-language newspaper in New York. His weekly column “Buenos Dias Amigos” was read in 62 U.S. Cities.

He earned his Bachelor’s (1952) and Master’s (1975) degrees in Political Science from CSU, Fresno. He would eventually serve on its Advisory Board.

Ambassador Sanchez received the first (1971) of his four consecutive appointments from President Richard Nixon when he was appointed Assistant Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity. Later he served (he succeeded Hon. Donald Rumsfield) as National Director of OEO (War on Poverty). He became the highest ranking Hispanic appointee in U.S. history.

His diplomatic career began when President Nixon appointed him U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Honduras (1973) and Ambassador to the Republic of Columbia (1976).

During their years at the Embassies, his beautiful wife (Juanita Martinez Sanchez, 1929-2010) arranged the adoption of 18 homeless babies. Each child became a successful American citizen. The couple has three children and two adopted children.

His local public service included serving as Fresno County’s Administrative Officer and as trustee of the Board of Trustees of the Clovis Unified School District (1961-1963).

In 1968 California Governor Ronald Reagan (tenure 1966-1974) appointed him to serve on the Governing Board of the California Community College and to the Trustees of the California State Colleges and Universities.

He became founding Publisher of “Tiempos del Mundo”. The weekly Spanish language newspaper which was printed in every nation in the Western Hemisphere in 1996.

Sanchez retired as full colonel in the army Reserve after a forty year career in 1987.

In 1975 he was chosen as “Man of the Year” by the American Association of Colleges and Universities. In 2000 he was inducted into the Clovis Hall of Fame and in 2001 honored as Clovis Living Legend by the Clovis-Big Dry Creek Historical Society.

The Honorable Phillip Sanchez has provided us a rich heritage that he also shared through out our world.

Peg Bos is the president of the Clovis Museum on 4th and Pollasky avenues in Old Town Clovis. She not only manages the museum but she also writes her Let's Talk Clovis column in our publication which features and highlight the amazing history of our city and culture. One fun fact about Peg Bos, she was the first female mayor of Clovis from 1984-86.