Dr. Manuel H. Guerra was born in San Diego, CA on July 15, 1922 to Manuel R. Guerra and Emilia McWilliams Guerra and passed away on October 27, 2013 in Huron, Ohio. He learned to love books from his grandfather McWilliams, a pioneer of the NapaValley and a Texas Ranger, when he was struck with polio in his youth. Manuel’s father, a concert violinist and band leader, encouraged him to regain his strength by swimming with “water wings” at the YMCA. From these early experiences, Manuel grew up to become a university professor, specializing in linguistics and languages, an author, a musical playwright, and a wonderful dancer.
Manuel interrupted his studies at PhoenixCollege to enlist in the Army Air Corps. during World War II and became a pilot and flying instructor. From Luke Air Force Base, he would “tip wings” over the ranch in Glendale owned by his Silva relatives. Since he was already bilingual (English/Spanish), the Army Air Corps. sent him to the MontereyLanguageSchool. He learned Japanese and Cantonese Chinese to translate enemy communications.
Through the G.I. Bill, Manuel pursued his education at University of Wisconsin and received his Ph.D. from University of Michigan. He was bound for the diplomatic corps in Argentina when Peron came to power and his plans changed overnight. He spent the next 50 years teaching at several universities including Stanford, University of Southern California, ASU, and SMU. During his career, Professor Guerra was an innovator and an activist. In the early days of television, he produced the first educational children’s program for WBEN-TV in Buffalo, New York and later for KQED-TV in San Francisco. He set up language labs and curriculum throughout the Bay area and championed bilingual education. Professor Guerra served M.A.P.A. as the Education Chair and was asked to testify before the U.S. Congress on the Civil Rights Act for higher education.
His literary skills and musical appreciation led Manuel to write the musical play, “Viva the USA”, with renowned Latin Jazz pianist, composer, and arranger, Eddie Cano. He also served as Scholarship Chair for his friend, the singer Vikki Carr. Recently, he authored the book, American Biography of Jaime Nuno, Composer of the Mexican National Anthem. During his life, Manuel wrote several books, including textbooks, and educational journal articles. He was written up in Who’s Who in American Education. Professor Guerra retired from University teaching when he was in his 80’s and loved watching college football games, cheering for the Badgers, Wolverines, Trojans or Sun Devils.
Manuel is survived by his wife, Martha, and her children Trina, Sterling, Mariah, Erich, and Sarah, his daughter, Nancy Guerra Wilbourne (Lee) of Penn Valley, CA, and nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his wife Ponciana, parents, and sisters, Carmen Silva and Esther Teubner. His remaining family, fellow professors, and students will miss him very much. Donations in his memory may be made to Hospice. Visitation will take place from 11:00 – 12:00 on Thursday, October 31, 2013 at Whitney & Murphy Funeral Home, 4800 East Indian School Road, Phoenix, AZ; burial at St.Francis Cemetery.