New memorials honor ‘Tex’ Rivera

By Jacob Fisher

Since the passing of Richard “Tex” Rivera, several projects have been undertaken in his honor. Last month there were plans in development to plant a tree in his honor.

There have since been two new projects introduced, with the biggest being one the renaming of Centennial Drive to Richard T. Rivera Way.

Centennial is the only alternate entrance and exit road to and from JJC. It is the road that passes the old student housing and connects to Olympic Blvd, which is the stoplight on Houbolt where Dunkin’ Donuts and Subway are located.

“[There is] not an official ceremony date yet, possibly April,” Tony Lucenti, lead groundskeeper, said.

The smaller project is the addition of dark-colored banners with the word “Tex” on them at the softball, baseball and soccer field. Rivera took special care and maintenance of the sports field during his tenure.

You can currently see the banners at all three fields. The renaming ceremony is currently without a date, but you can expect to see some changes in road names soon.

Rivera was honored at the Feb. 17 monthly board of Trustee meeting.

There, Chairman Wunderlich read a proclimation of recognition for Rivera’s “distinguished service as well as for his diligence, perseverance and loyalty.”

Pat Van Duyne and Rich Rivera, respectively, celebrate the dedication of the Facility Services building.

“Throughout his years of service, Rich Rivera demonstrated admirable support for the ideals of education as well as for the institution of Joliet Junior College,” Wunderlich read.

In attendance was Rivera’s wife, Nancy, who accepted the recognition in Rivera’s honor.

“He loved this place,” Nancy Rivera said. “Our whole live revolved around it… and I hope to continue with it.”

Rich Rivera had met his wife at JJC while he was working as a student groundskeeper. Together they had two children whom also grew up with JJC in their hearts.

“Our children grew up on the campus, on the outside every week,” Nancy Rivera said. “We were always here on the outside.

In a 2015 promotional interview for JJC, Rivera talked about his experiences at JJC.

“What makes me proud to work at JJC is the people,” Rivera said. “It makes me happy everyday that I can get up in the morning and say ‘hey I’m gonna go to work’ and get to work with this caliber of people.”

For those interested in watching the full interview, it can be viewed using this link:

Rivera will be remembered for the dedication he had to the college and the numerous organizations, such as a member of JJC’s Board of Trustee’s Buildings and Grounds Committee.

He was also a member of the Facility Services Safety Committee and current Chairman since January 1987.

Rivera served multiple terms as President and Vice President of JJC’s Alumni Association, was the current Chairman of Grounds Advisory Committee and served as Chief Union Steward for Local #7 of the International Brotherhood of Firemen and Oilers.