Passings: Professor Emeritus Pastor Valle-Garay

A field of flowers at sunset

Pastor Valle-Garay, professor emeritus in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, died on Jan. 9. Prior to retiring, Prof. Valle-Garay devoted more than 40 years of his life to teaching at York University.

Pastor Valle-Garay

Described as a truly gifted educator and a student of life, Prof. Valle-Garay shared his love of culture and language with his many friends and students during his lifetime of service. As a university student in San Francisco, he landed his initial teaching job as a Latin dance instructor. After moving to Toronto with his wife and daughter, he taught English as a second language for three years to adult immigrants coping with the challenges of adapting to a new country.

In 1968, through a series of fortunate events, Prof. Valle-Garay found himself responding to an urgent need for a Spanish language instructor at York University. His eloquent mastery of Spanish, firsthand knowledge of life in Central America, natural storytelling ability and a wonderful sense of humour endeared him to many students who found his teaching style engaging and expansive. Many of his students went on to become successful translators, teachers and enthusiasts of Latin American culture. He devoted more than 40 years of his life to his love for teaching at York University, while also finding time to speak out against the oppressive political structures at work in his home country of Nicaragua.

From December 1979-88, Prof. Valle-Garay served as Charges d’Áffaires and Consul General of Nicaragua in Canada for the new government of Nicaragua. His mandate was to establish, for the first time in their history, bilateral diplomatic, trade and cultural relations between Nicaragua and Canada.

An amateur photographer, gifted writer, lover of music and wildlife, Prof. Valle-Garay is survived by his daughters Jacqueline (grandchildren Breanna and Ryan), Michelle (grandchildren Kali and Kaitlyn) and Nicole, and sons Alejandro, Gianfranco, Claudio and Antonio. A family celebration of his life will be held at a later time.