In Memory of Gary Ledesma

The following announcement was sent out on March 8, 2024, via District email.  Thank you to SJCC’s President Rowena Tomaneng for allowing us to share this with all of you.

Dear District Community,

With a heavy heart and great sadness, I share the untimely passing of our dear former counseling faculty colleague Gary Ledesma, father of EOPS Counselor Elena Dutra.

Many of his colleagues will agree Gary was truly a kind-hearted, gracious, humble, calm, caring, charismatic, intelligent, mindful, and compassionate human being. He was a strong student advocate who was both understanding and empathetic.

Gary was hired as an adjunct counselor at San José City College and De Anza College in 1974. It was a time of transformation for people of color, and Gary took his role to heart. Determined to effectively shape the lives of many and provide a clear pathway to upward mobility, Gary used his role as a counselor to create a space for all students. Gary served as an icon in our community and an amazing former tenured counselor who retired from SJCC in 2016.

Gary was also an alumnus of San José City College, Class of 1969, who ultimately earned a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Santa Clara University. From his experiences as a farmworker to a student rising up in higher education, he understood the platform needed for student upward mobility.

During his tenure at SJCC, Gary strongly advocated for all students and worked ardently to improve the campus climate. He was instrumental in working with all populations, especially underrepresented and first-generation college students. Gary accomplished many goals through his efforts, leading to progressive change in the campus climate, outlook, and student resources. He was a staunch supporter of equity and change. In 2013, Gary became one of the founding members of the SJCC Veterans Resource Center and served as the faculty advisor for the Student Association of Veterans organization. He took the lead in creating a space for our honored veteran students.

Gary helped a plethora of students move forward with their university transfer goals. Many of his former students have secured professional careers, and others have returned to SJCC to serve as employees in our district. While Gary mentored many students, staff, and faculty, he had a strong, calm presence and voice as an advocate for students, policy, and change when needed.

Gary was an amazing faculty member who was well-liked among his colleagues. He was a leader who was well respected. During his tenure, he was a founding member of the SJCC Latino Education Association (L.E.A.) and a counselor to support EOPS, veterans, transfer, general, and career counseling.

Gary will be remembered as an amazing husband, father, grandfather, family member, friend, colleague, and strong community advocate. He will be greatly missed, as we will all feel the impact of his loss.

Though he is gone, his legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of all he has encountered in our district. Let us keep his family in our hearts, thoughts, and prayers.

Gary’s family welcomes any cards of condolences. You can mail them to:

The Ledesma Family
1367 Tofts Dr.
San Jose, CA 95131

In Community Spirit,
Rowena