Ellie Enriquez Peck, a veteran Democratic activist who was influential in California as a mentor for Latino youths and an advocate for seniors, died Tuesday of complications from congestive heart failure, her family said. She was 80.
Mrs. Peck was a longtime leader on aging issues at the state Capitol. She directed a senior discount program for the Department of Consumer Affairs in the early 1980s and helped organize the California Senior Legislature. As principal consultant on aging and minority affairs for Lt. Gov. Leo McCarthy, she was instrumental in passing the state's Nursing Home Patients Protection Act of 1984.
She went on to be executive director of SMARxT Coalition of California, a medication awareness program for seniors. In addition, she was active in regional and national seminars related to the White House Conference on Aging in the 1990s.
Mrs. Peck was a leader in the Democratic Party at local, state and national levels. She worked on Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley's gubernatorial campaign and was a delegate to the 1976 Democratic National Convention. She served on the Sacramento County Democratic Central Committee and was a longtime member of the Hispanic Democratic Club.
A longtime friend and neighbor of former Sacramento Mayor Joe Serna Jr., she used her political connections to support Latinos for elective office statewide. She was a founding member of the Chicano Latino Youth Leadership Project, a program that provides academic, career and political opportunities for students.
Warm and maternal, Mrs. Peck had welcomed young people from around the state to CLYLP's annual Sacramento Leadership Conference since 1982. Last week, several days before her death, she encouraged participants at this year's workshop to run in student-body elections and to organize political campaigns on issues that matter to them.
"Ellie loved being with our students and loved the impact that the program had on them and their communities," CLYLP Executive Director Norma Dominguez said. "It was such a shot of positive energy for her to see these kids as the future."
A Sacramento native, Ellie Enriquez was born on Oct. 21, 1932. Raised by her mother, a seamstress, she grew up during the Great Depression in the Southside Park and Oak Park neighborhoods.
She graduated from McClatchy High School in 1950 and began working for state government. She married Raymond C. Peck, who retired as a Department of Motor Vehicles manager, and earned money typing college dissertations while raising eight children at home before returning to state service.
A Folsom resident, Mrs. Peck was a talented musician who played piano and sang in community choirs as a child. Along with her husband, she was a jazz lover who held season tickets to almost every Monterey Jazz Festival since 1958, her family said.
Mrs. Peck was predeceased by a son, Enrico Guerrero, in 1992. Besides her husband of 55 years, she is survived by her children Reggie Guerrero, Frances Silva, Teresa Peck-Montijo, Linda Heisler, Margaret Henley and Christina, all of Sacramento, and Raymond Jr. of Santa Cruz; half-sisters Gloria Enriquez de Luna and Socorro Enriquez de Leos, both of Chihuahua, Mexico; 11 grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren.
A celebration of life is planned for noon Aug. 12 at the Scottish Rite Center, 6151 H St., Sacramento. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Chicano Latino Youth Leadership Project or the American Diabetes Association.
Call The Bee's Robert D. Dávila, (916) 321-1077. Follow him on Twitter @bob_davila.
Editor's note: This story was changed Aug. 2 to include information about Mrs. Peck's memorial service.