Laura Rodriguez's life was dedicated to the City of San Diego and particularly to the Barrio Chicano Community Health Center. Ceaseless work and untiring devotion helped create a service to the community at a time when the medical care in this area was lacking. Laura said “I've dedicated my life to Barrio Logan. Improving the health of my neighbors in this community has been my primary concern. I've never had much of a formal education, but I've always had a desire to see the people in my community given good medical care.”
Laura Rodriguez spent most of her life in the Barrio. She was one of three siblings born of an Italian father and a Mexican mother. At age 12 she was orphaned and was befriended by the Marston family who became her legal guardian. At 16 she married their head gardener David Rodriguez and returned to the Barrio where they raised four children.
After raising her family she turned her attention to becoming a catalyst in the founding of Chicano Park, planting herself in front of a bulldozer and helping organize round-the-clock demonstrations to make San Diego officials honor their commitment to keep the property near the east end of the Coronado Bridge a community park. She then turned her focus to founding what is today called the Logan Heights Family Health Center. The Center was created in 1970 on National Avenue. Through Laura's powers of persuasion and the homemade tamales she offered civic leaders, she brought in financial pledges of support and many volunteer hours. Mrs. Rodriguez herself poured countless hours into supporting her community and working at the clinic, resulting in many 12-hour days.
Her continued efforts in the areas of fundraising, awareness and development have made the Health Center a credit to the City of San Diego. In 1987, a pediatric clinic was added in Laura Rodriguez's name. Her trademark tamales helped launch the "Spirit of the Barrio" luncheons which inspire supporters to continue to make the Logan Heights Family Health Center the pride of the community. Today the clinic treats patients in the areas of dentistry, social services, eye clinic, family planning, speech correction, podiatry, gynecology, dermatology and cardiology and partners with the UC San Diego School of Medicine and Mercy Hospital.
Laura Rodriguez's honors and recognition include: Neighborhood Houserecognition for Community Service plaque 1973, Mexican American Woman of the Year award 1974 and Oradora de Honor 1978, SDG&E Consumer Advisory Panel Service Award 1980, Salvation Army Door of Hope Women's Auxiliary-Women of Distinction Award 1981. Leaders such as Mayor Susan Golding and San Diego City Councilman Juan Vargas honored her as an important activist for the health and well-being of the community. She was designated “Woman of the Year” in 1987 by the Legislature. In 1991 Laura was presented with the 595th Point of Light Recipient by President George Bush.
In addition to her tireless work and the Logan Heights Family Health Center, Laura Rodriguez was survived by her 4 children, 11 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren at the time of her death in 1994.