The American Odyssey of Roy Dominguez
Publication Year: 2012
The son of Hispanic immigrants, Rogelio "Roy" Dominguez grew up in gang-plagued Gary, Indiana. With strong family support, he managed to beat the odds, graduating with distinction from Indiana University, finishing law school after a rough start, and maturing into a successful attorney and officeholder. Yet there was more in store for Roy. Ready to start a family and embark on a career as a deputy prosecutor, he was stricken with Guillain-Barré syndrome. How he coped with and eventually overcame this debilitating affliction is a compelling part of his story. The experience steeled him to meet future crises with wisdom, perspective, and grit. An inspiring true story, Valor is also a significant and original contribution to the social, ethnic, and political history of Indiana.
Published by: Indiana University Press
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Frontispiece
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I first met Roy Dominguez in the mid-1980s when I was deciding whether or not to run for the office of Indiana secretary of state. He seemed to be a bright, articulate young man with an interest in good government whose encouragement I much appreciated. I got to know him during that campaign and when I ran successfully for governor in...
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In selecting a title for this autobiography, I sought to convey a quality of spirit that paid tribute to the sacrifices of my forebears and that might provide a moral compass for those moved by my life story. In Spanish the word valor is usually said with pride and emphasis, but I do not mean it in an egotistical sense. Rather I wish to honor those such as my parents...
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My dad’s family members were farmers; my mom’s were migrant workers. From them I learned to do my best and work hard for my dreams. They taught me the importance of family, getting an education, and other lessons in life as I worked beside them in the agricultural fields. They...
Two: Growing Up
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During the first eight years of my life we kept moving back and forth between southern Texas and northwest Indiana. In 1955 for a time we lived in Cudahy, a subdivision within Gary’s city limits. It was on the far west side, near Cline Avenue and Route 20, straddling the border between Gary and East Chicago. Pretty much a Latino barrio, at least on...
Three: Teen Years
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From an early age I found ways to find work and earn spending money. I would cut neighbors’ lawns with my trusty gas-powered mower and kept an eye on people’s homes when they departed on vacation, watering their lawns and gardens and collecting their mail, for example. Many...
Four: Work and College
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Through the Gary Career Center, where I had gone for half-days during my senior year at Gary Lew Wallace High School, I found my first full-time job in June of 1972, at Ortman-Miller Machine Company, which manufactured hydraulic cylinders. It was located in north Hammond on Goslin Street near Calumet Avenue. I’d commonly be stopped by...
Five: State Trooper and Law Student
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At the time I set my sights on becoming a state trooper there were no Hispanics on the force – or women, for that matter – and no more than a half-dozen African American troopers. That didn’t deter me. I was determined to push through that barrier. Sometime around 1974 the Indiana chapter of the NAACP sued the Indiana State Police in federal...
Six: Advances and Setbacks
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After I passed the law board examination and was admitted to the Indiana “Roll of Attorneys” on June 4, 1982, I applied for work as a deputy prosecutor at the Lake County prosecutor’s office. My primary goal was to get back into law enforcement and to gain valuable experience as a...
Seven: Evan Bayh and Statewide Office
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One day in 1985 Lake County prosecutor Jack Crawford asked if I wanted to meet Evan Bayh, who had decided to run for Indiana secretary of state. He predicted that the son of former senator Birch Bayh was going to be governor and some day run for president. That piqued my interest, so I said, “Let’s go.”...
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Eight: 1990s Political Campaigns
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In 1994 I ran for Lake County sheriff because I thought I’d be able to promote a level of professionalism that was sorely lacking in that office. In fact, many regarded it as a political police force. Because of other obligations, I was not able to announce my candidacy until February. I wanted to finish up projects with the Worker’s Compensation Board...
Nine: Becoming Lake County Sheriff
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Realizing my previous campaign for sheriff in 1994 was too abbreviated, I decided to announce in May of 2001, a year in advance. Starting early would allow me sufficient time to promote my reasons for seeking the office and communicate those ideals and principles successfully. During my predecessor’s seven years in office, the sheriff’s department had...
Ten: Triumph and Tragedy
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On March 13, 2004, Officer Robert Bridgeman was driving me to Indianapolis in a marked police car. We were in the I-65 passing lane just south of the Crown Point exit. Its being spring break, my nephew Nicholas, a Purdue University criminal justice major, was in the back seat, and I was checking my schedule on a handheld organizer. A truck...
Eleven: Second Term
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In March of 2002, before I took office, my predecessor had appointed a longtime corrections officer from Gary to be warden in hopes to garner political support among African Americans. I reappointed her and, wanting her to succeed, tried not to micromanage the jail and let her pick her staff. Perhaps in retrospect I should have replaced the warden with...
Twelve: Dreaming Big
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At a January 2005 Gary Frontier Social Club’s breakfast honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., newly elected governor Mitch Daniels was one of the main speakers. I wished the incoming governor well and told him that even though I was a Democrat, I believed in good government and would help him in any way I could since he was our governor. He was...
Conclusion: Core Values
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In 2006 I helped organize a group called HOPE. The acronym stands for the Hispanic Organization Promoting Excellence. The primary mission is to promote excellence in the areas of education, employment, and image. I wrote to members of the Hispanic community, such as judges, lawyers, prosecutors, business executives, educators, union leaders...
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I first met Rogelio “Roy” Dominguez during the 1980s while we were both active in the Latino Historical Society. Jesse Villalpando Sr., the organization’s founder and driving force, treated us to a delicious, spicy breakfast at Casa Blanca, a Mexican restaurant in the Indiana Harbor section of East Chicago, following a Saturday morning...
About the Author
Page Count: 288
Illustrations: 42 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2012