Monday, October 10, 2011
University has a Community Landmark in its Corner
TTUHSC at El Paso recently purchased a former restaurant and boxing gym as its first step toward becoming a full-fledged health sciences university.
Written by Lisa Ruley
As told by Marina Monsisvais
The university’s newest El Paso building was once a gym where former baseball player Rocky Galarza trained young people to box.
It may not seem that way now, but health and fitness is in the DNA of the bright pink building at 4908 Alberta Ave., located between the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine and University Medical Center.
The El Paso campus recently purchased the building, and according to Frank Stout, associate dean for Finance and Administration at the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine, the acquisition is a small step toward TTUHSC at El Paso becoming a full-fledged health sciences university. Ultimately, Stout said, the location will become an academic building.
“We have to start somewhere,” Stout said.
A Long History
The building at 4908 Alberta Ave. has shared a long, vibrant history with El Paso’s Val Verde community and TTUHSC.
Rocky Galarza, former third baseman of the 1949 Bowie Bears baseball team that won the inaugural Texas State Championship, opened Rocky’s — a outdoor barrio boxing gym by day and bar and grill by night — at the location after retiring from baseball.
Galarza was an El Paso legend who enjoyed helping barrio kids live better lives, said Rus Bradburd, assistant University of Texas at El Paso basketball coach and friend of Galarza’s.
“Hundreds and hundreds of kids from south El Paso went through there,” Bradburd said. “He would take kids off the street and teach them to box. He was very democratic and took in any youth regardless of age, gender or disability. He treated them all the same.”
From 1985 to 1997, Rocky’s was an El Paso hot spot. With the boxing ring in the outside yard, Rocky’s was hosted many Saturday amateur boxing matches.
According to a recent Sports Illustrated article, Galarza plucked famed El Paso fighter and World Boxing Federation lightweight champion Juan (Ernie) Lazcano off the street when he was young.
Unfortunately, Galarza’s legacy was cut short when he was murdered in 1997, a few days prior to his scheduled induction into the El Paso Athletic Hall of Fame. He was inducted posthumously in 1998.
Aside from being known as Rocky’s, 4908 Alberta Ave. has also been home to Police Officers Association meetings and Samaniego’s El Jardin, a Mexican restaurant formerly owned and operated by recent TTUHSC retiree Dottie Samaniego.
“It must have been in the early ‘80s, probably ‘82 to ‘84 when we owned it,” Samaniego said. “It was a lot of fun. Back then, we catered to Tech and Thomason, a factory that was nearby and the telephone company, which is now the Administrative Services Building.”
Samaniego worked at as director of Volunteer Services at the El Paso campus for 24 years. 4908 Alberta Ave. has also been known as the Rock Kiss Café and Buchanan’s.
In one way or another, the university’s purchase of the building is a step toward improving health and wellness in El Paso. And just like Galarza’s boxing club, the university’s newest building will house programs to lead future health care professionals to inspire children and other El Paso residents to take steps toward brighter, healthier futures.
Story produced by the Office of Communications and Marketing, (806) 743-2143.
Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing
The Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing is located in El Paso.
The Hunt Family Foundation donated a $10 million gift to the Texas Tech University System. The donation is being used to develop the autonomous, fully-accredited Hunt School of Nursing on the Texas/Mexico border.
Paul L. Foster School of Medicine
In 2009, TTUHSC opened the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine in El Paso. The school is the first, full-fledged medical school on the U.S./Mexico border, which provides education and opportunities for research and health care for El Paso’s underserved residents.
The school’s geographic location allows students to participate in a variety of clinical patient care learning experiences that include not only traditional medicine, but also international, bi-national, bi-cultural and border health medicine.