Baylor Mourns Death of Former Student Center Director

March 5, 2008
News Photo 4400Ruben Santos

Media contact: Lori Fogleman, director of media communications, (254) 710-6275

Baylor University is mourning the death of Ruben M. Santos, who served 35 years as director of the Bill Daniel Student Center before his retirement in May 2002. He was 71.

Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 8, at Columbus Avenue Baptist Church, 1300 Columbus Ave. in Waco. Burial will follow at Oakwood Cemetery. Visitation with the family will begin at 6 p.m. Friday, March 7, at Wilkirson-Hatch-Bailey Garden Room, 6101 Bosque Blvd.

Memorials can be made to the Ruben Santos Scholarship at Baylor University, One Bear Place #97026, Waco, TX 76798.

Santos was born in San Antonio on May 22, 1936. He had been battling an autoimmune illness for several months and passed away March 5 at his Waco home.

Santos first came to Baylor as a student in 1955, then returned in 1967 to fill a temporary position as assistant director of the Student Union. That temporary position led to the director role, which he held for several decades. He was honored by the university in 1995 with an Outstanding Staff Award.

(Read a profile on Santos' impact on thousands of Baylor students from the SUMMER 2002 edition of BaylorNews: SUMMER 2002 edition of BaylorNews.)

Dr. Martha Lou Scott, associate vice president for student life, described Santos as an "icon," who was continually sought out by alumni because "for many of us, Ruben Santos and Baylor were synonymous."

As director of the student center, Santos was involved in hundreds of Baylor events, from Dr Pepper Hour to banquets, All University Sing to After Dark.

But Santos was legendary when it came to the annual BDSC Christmas tree and decorations he put up with the help of family members and campus volunteers.

"He was one of the most generous individuals I have ever known," Scott said. "[His entire family] sacrificed Thanksgiving holidays to decorate the Union Building. It would start early on Monday before Thanksgiving when the tree was delivered and Ruben would begin flocking it in preparation for the decorations. Barbara Ann would cook Thanksgiving dinner with all of the trimmings, while Ruben and the children directed Baylor students in making and hanging decorations. After clearing the dishes, Barbara Ann would join others in sewing banners, tying bows, and making yards and yards of garland.

"Ruben readily shared himself and his creative abilities with everyone and is the one who inspired students to reach for the stars," Scott said. "The investment he made in students will be realized for generations to come."

Santos also served the greater Waco community as a Waco City Council member from 1983-90 and a term as Waco Mayor in 1985.

Please remember Ruben's family in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

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