Grace Slocum, who served on the Riverside Community College District Board of Trustees from 1992 to 2006 and served as its president three times, has died. She was 90 years old.
The Riverside resident also worked for 15 years as the Executive Director of the Volunteer Center of Greater Riverside, helping run programs such as HELPLine, Information and Referral Service, the Volunteer Program, Long Term Care Ombudsman Program, Transportation Access Program and Reach Program, his family wrote. Slocum died on Wednesday, March 16, her family announced.
“Our mother dedicated her life to serving God, her community and her country,” her daughter Ann Peoples said. “Our family will miss his great sense of humor and his deep spiritual beliefs that carry us through the good times and the bad.”
Born in New Jersey, Slocum moved to Corona at age 14 and graduated from Corona High School in 1949. A year later, she became one of the first women to join the Air Force, serving three years as a radio technician, her family wrote. She married a colleague from the Air Force. After years of base-hopping, they were posted in 1966 to what was then March Air Force Base near Riverside.
Slocum worked for five years at Divine Word Seminary in Riverside. At 42, she returned to school, attending Riverside Community College as a full-time student, then transferred to UC Riverside and earned a bachelor’s degree in social relations. After four years in real estate, Slocum ran the volunteer center, his family wrote.
In 1996, Slocum teamed up with then-Riverside City Council member Joy Defenbaugh to form the Coalition for Common Ground to encourage racial harmony and the celebration of diversity, according to newspaper records. It was a response to racial tensions that surfaced after former NFL star OJ Simpson was acquitted in a double murder case and Riverside County sheriff’s deputies were televised beating two undocumented immigrants.
While overseeing the community college, Slocum helped forge partnerships with Ford and Toyota to establish model career training programs, his family said, and helped develop the Passport to College program offering scholarships to fifth-graders. .
College board member Mary Figueroa, who served alongside Slocum for a decade, said there was no doubt about her priority.
“She taught me to put students first,” Figueroa said. “It’s the only thing she left me.”
Figueroa cited an example. In the late 1990s, Figueroa said, college board members and administrators — along with a group of students — attended a dinner party at UC Riverside. A table was set up at the front of a room for the board members and another at the back for the students. But the community college students were accidentally taken to the front. When the mistake was discovered, an organizer suggested that the students and board members switch places.
“She was the one who said, ‘No, we’re going to stay here. And we did it,” Figueroa said. “It was Grace.”
Slocum has volunteered with numerous community groups and, in 1991, received the YWCA’s Woman of Achievement Award, her family said.
She also had fun. Peoples said her mom enjoys camping at the beach, boogie boarding, swimming and loves to travel.