(UPDATE Oct. 24: services for Ambassador Phillip V. Sanchez are set for Oct. 25 and 26. Fresno State’s flags will be posted at half-staff from sunrise to sunset Thursday, Oct. 26: bit.ly/FSN-PSanchezServices). 

(October 17, 2017) — Fresno State will pay tribute to the Hon. Phillip V. Sanchez, former United States ambassador and alumnus who died yesterday, by posting the University’s flags at half-staff on the day of his funeral service.

Ambassador Sanchez, a native of the Pinedale community in north Fresno who served in the Army Reserve and retired as a colonel, earned a bachelor’s degree from Fresno State in 1957 and a master’s in 1972, both in political science. He was 88.

He retired as a newspaper publisher after government service including two ambassadorships and directing the War on Poverty as the nation’s highest-ranking Latino government official.

In 1977, Sánchez received the Fresno State Distinguished Alumni Award and a Top Dog Award as the Outstanding Alumnus for the Division of Student Affairs in 2008. He also served on the university’s National Board of Visitors. In 2010, the Fresno State Chicano Alumni named him its Chicano Alumni Legacy Builder.

Dr. Joseph I. Castro, Fresno State president, said today:

“I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Ambassador Philip Sanchez. Ambassador Sanchez broke barriers in many fields — from government to education to philanthropy. A true son of the valley with humble beginnings, Ambassador Sanchez made Fresno proud by representing our country with distinction and integrity. And while his travels took him all over the world, he never forgot his roots. He was a role model not only for Hispanics, but for every person who aspires to public service. He was a diplomat in the truest sense of the word. Mary and I send our deepest condolences to the Sanchez family and his many friends on the loss of this great leader and distinguished Fresno State alumnus.”

At Fresno State, Sánchez was the founding president of Sigma Chi fraternity and was awarded the national organization’s highest honor in 2007, the Order of Constantine.

He also was a drummer in the Fresno State band and performed at the groundbreaking for the Fresno Veterans Administration Hospital in the late 1940s.

Sanchez was Fresno County chief administrative officer in the 1960s before President Nixon appointed him assistant director for the Office of Economic Opportunity in 1971. He took the agency’s top spot in 1972.

Nixon appointed Sánchez ambassador to Honduras, where he served from 1973 to 1975. President Ford chose him as U.S. ambassador to Colombia from 1975 to 1977.

After government service, Sánchez became publisher of The New York Tribune and Noticias del Mundo, a Spanish-language weekly newspaper based in the U.S. that closed in 2004.

He served on numerous national and world boards, commissions and organizations, chairing the board for the National Hispanic University in California.

The Fresno Bee reports a memorial service is tentatively planned for October 27.