Denver, CO

Denver honors Latina, Black leaders gone too soon

David Heitz
Lucille Ruibal RiveraPhoto bySubmitted

The Denver City Council honored two women of color Monday revered in the community and gone too soon.

The council issued proclamations honoring Lucille Ruibal Rivera and Patricia “Patt” Houston. The council revered Ruibal Rivera, the victim in a murder-suicide, as an incredible photographer, healthcare advocate and community leader. Lucille “Ruibal Rivera was a revered pillar of the community in Denver,” the proclamation states. “She co-founded Clinica Tepayac to care for medically underserved communities, worked to help it thrive and grow, and joined its board of directors eventually serving as its chair.”

In accepting the proclamation, Ruibal Rivera’s youngest son True Apodaca Cobell said his mother’s photographs “were windows onto the world, telling stories that often words could not express.” Council member Serena Gonzales Guttierez noted that Ruibal Rivera was her cousin. “I’ve lost count of the number of times she showed up for others, Gonzales-Guttierez said. “What a powerhouse,” added council member Diana Romero Campbell.

Funeral services Friday

“Lucille contributed years of work to Denver Health, starting as a clinic administrator and rising to being appointed to the board of directors of Denver Health’s Community Health Services in 2010,” the proclamation continues. “She served the Chicano Humanities and Arts Council in many ways, from artist to vice-chair of the board to executive director.” Of her spirit, the proclamation waxed, “She manifested self-determination and was able to see the possibilities of what it means to be a people of woven ancestry and heritage — of what beautiful things can be created in the world.”

Council President Jamie Torres said Ruibal Rivera’s passion for “photography, art, a healthy community and love will never be forgotten,” as she choked back tears.

Services will be 10 a.m. to noon Friday at Latina Funerals and Cremation, 3020 Federal Blvd.

Patt Houston tribute
Photo bySubmitted

Council member Shontel Lewis gave a heartfelt tribute to Patt Houston, who died April 4. She was 75.

Houston founded EspeciallyMe and “made immeasurable contributions to Denver youth by providing a nurturing environment for black girls and young women to come together and learn to recognize their self-worth, affirm their dignity and strive for excellence from within,” the proclamation states. “Through her leadership, Patt helped shape and mold the lives of more than 15,000 young women, framed by the philosophy ‘The Price of Dignity,’ and ‘The Standard of Excellence,’ giving each of them the tools to grow into confident, strong, talented, and proud women.”

Torres said she was "really overwhelmed by the power and love in this room."

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I've been in the news business 35 years, spending much of my career in editing roles at community newspapers in Southern California and the Quad-Cities of Illinois and Iowa. Upon moving to Denver in 2018, I began experiencing severe mental illness due to several traumatic experiences. I became homeless on the street for about a year before spending time in the state mental hospital. I am proof that people can rebound from even severe mental illness with proper treatment. I consider myself a lucky guy to live in a great place like Denver. I hope my writing reflects the passion I have for living in the Mile High City. You can email me news releases and story ideas at

Denver, CO

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