coronavirus

Family, Friends Mourn Loss of Riverside Community Activist Who Died From Complications of COVID-19

Morris Mendoza, 72, helped form the police community relations committee after tensions rose between officers and residents.

NBC Universal, Inc.

Family and friends on Monday were mourning the death of a local community activist who recently died from COVID-19 complications.

Morris Mendoza, 72, dedicated his life to helping people in his Riverside community.

He was calming influence during turbulent times.

"He was a wonderful man," said his wife, Rosie Mendoza.

They were married for more than 40 years and had three children.

Recently Morris died of complications from COVID-19, leaving his family devastated.

Family members say they aren't the only ones grieving. So are the many people who live in the Riverside neighborhood called Casa Blanca where he lived his entire life. His sister, Cindy, says he worked tirelessly to change it for the better.

"If anybody brought attention that there were needs in the community, he would do what it took to get it done," she said.

It included campaigning for affordable housing in the largely Latino community, which led to a street being named after him.

He also played a vital role in bringing an elementary school back to Casa Blanca after the original one closed in the 60s during the desegregation of Riverside schools.

He also helped form the police community relations committee after tensions rose between officers and residents.

Mary Figueroa, the president of the board of trustees for the Riverside Community College District, said there were "tense incidents where at one time the police helicopter was shot down."

She called Mendoza the voice of reason at community meetings.

"He was always calm and so I think that the word peacemaker for him would be very appropriate."

He was also an Army veteran and a lifelong Riverside resident who dedicated his life for others.

"It's just unbelievable the number of things he's done and every time I hear about it, I say, 'That's my brother,'" his sister said.

Contact Us