Frank Borreca, EdD, President of AAMD 1981-1982 Board of Directors, passed away in his home in Houston on August 7, 2011. He was 92.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, he grew up in Manhattan and completed his undergraduate studies at City College of New York. He earned a graduate degree at Columbia University and a doctorate in Education at the University of Houston.
During World War II, Dr. Borreca served in the United States Army and was awarded both the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart. An experience he had in the South Pacific brought him to the field:
When I was overseas (during World War II), we were stationed on an island in the South Pacific, and ... one night I was talking with a local farmer. I heard this human voice, screaming in the barn. I said, "What is that?" The farmer said, "My son." He had his son hidden in a large cage, and the boy was just screaming. The farmer said if the authorities knew he had this disabled son, they would take him away. [Later, at Columbia I was in] a class of Down syndrome boys and girls, about 10 years old, and I just fell in love with them. I remembered that crying voice on the island. And when I walked into that classroom, I knew what I had to do.
He taught in the New York City public schools, but was called to Houston, Texas by a group of parents who were developing a service agency for their children. In 1956 he was named the first director of what is now known as The Center Serving Persons with Mental Retardation, a position he held for 35 years. Under his guidance, the vision of the founding parents grew into a multi-faced organization serving a diverse group of people with a wide range of needs. Following his retirement, he was honored with the designation of “Life Member” of the Center, and in 2008 its Trustees established the “Dr. Frank A. Borreca Scholarship Fund” with gifts and grants to assist with service costs for individuals supported by the organization.
In introducing him at the 1982 conference of the Association, Hank Mann (1921-2010) noted that Dr. Borreca’s steady and active work in the field enriched the lives of many people but that he:
…came into this world “unadorned” and has not in all of these years taken on the blandishments that people in high places so often do. He will leave us as he came—quietly and unassumingly—sneaking out the back door for fear of being recognized for his good works. What will matter in the end is that the significant work he has done on behalf of individuals with retardation will outlast him and will keep in our memories of his having “been around” for so many in need—quite a tribute for one “who wasn’t there.”
A member of the Association for 60 years, Dr. Borreca served as president of the American Association on Mental Deficiency (1981-1982). Services to be held Saturday, August 13, 2011 at 11.00 am at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, 6800 Buffalo Speedway, Houston, TX.