PROFILE OF A
Ruben Alvarez was born June 22, 1934, in Fresno, California to Froylan and Josephine Alvarez. He had five siblings; Froy Jr., Mary, Edward, Alice and Mario.
Ruben attended Ben Franklin Elementary, St. Alphonso Elementary, San Joaquin Memorial and Edison High Schools; all located in Fresno. While in high school Ruben met and fell in love with fellow classmate Ruby Ortiz. To no surprise, they married after graduation on February 2, 1953.
Six months later during a 30 day leave, Ruben received orders that changed every few days. First he was to be sent to Korea, a week later it was Guam. After that came orders to report to Camp Kilmore, NJ. His final orders were to be stationed in Rabat French Morocco, and he was shipped out of Camp Kilmore on the USS General R.M. Blatchford, AP153 Troop Carrier. Eight days later they arrived in Casablanca French Morocco. Ruben was bussed 65 miles north to Rabat French Morocco, U.S. Air Force Command of both the 20th and 117th Air Force, where he served as electrical technician. Soon afterwards, the distinction of being the Disc Jockey for KASF Radio for the Armed Forces Radio Service was added. Prior to being shipped to Rabat, Ruben was awarded Airman of the Month at Fairchild AFB Strategic Air Command. Unfortunately he had been shipped out before the award could be presented. It was forwarded to Rabat French Morocco, and included a three day leave to Tangiers French Morocco at the Palace Hotel. Among other awards Ruben received, a special favorite was a letter of appreciation he had received from USAF Commander of 117th Air Force, Major General Frederick E. Glantzberg. Ruben served 18 months in Rabat before returning stateside in 1956. After a 30 day leave at Fort Bragg, in Fayetteville, N.C., Ruben was ordered to Shaw AFB in Sumter, S.C. where in 1957, he was honorably discharged.
Ruben’s first civilian job after leaving the Air Force was “Radio Top 40” for Radio Station KONG in Visalia, California. After one month of hearing the same songs over and over, it was all he could take. He wanted more in the Electronics field and was informed he needed a First Class FCC Engineers License to be able to work in Radio and Television Engineering.
Moving to Pomona and working at Lockheed Aircraft in Ontario, California, Ruben updated and installed radio and radar in F86D Fighter Jets. After working four months, a huge layoff of workers found Ruben now working for a VW agency in Pomona, California for two months. He then decided to apply for a G.I. Bill to attend Don Martin’s Radio and Television School in Hollywood to earn his FCC Engineer’s license. It was to be a three year course with no time off. Luckily Ruben and his family lived just blocks away from both his job and his school.
From 1957 to 1960 Ruben supported his family during the day by working at Competition Motors, a Volkswagen agency. It was three blocks away from school in downtown Hollywood. He would work everything he could; as a mechanic, a parts man, and a road tester. He worked 8 – 5 during the day, then attended night school from 6 – 11 five days a week.
January 4, 1969, his daughter Laura was born. Soon after, Ruben graduated from Radio and Television Engineering School with a First Class FCC Broadcast Engineer’s License. The family moved back to Fresno in March, 1960 where Ruben worked for KJEO Channel 47, ABC. He began as substitute engineer, then as night engineer through 1969.
November 1, 1969 Ruben was accepted for the position of instructional television engineer with the Fresno County Office of Education. Fresno County was one of four in the country with instructional television in all county schools. Ruben’s job was to maintain three transmitters and keep all school sites in operating condition. He was also involved in studio production and recordings.
Fresno County Office of Education Superintendent Ernest Poore applied for and was granted a Public Broadcasting License in 1977. It fell on the production staff of Ruben and two other engineers to literally start from scratch and build what was then Channel 18 KMTF TV, which is now known as KVPT TV Channel 18. Ruben still filled obligations of ITV productions to the schools while supporting the live Channel 18 TV from the same control room he and the engineers helped design.
When TV Channel 18 decided to pull away from the F.C.O.E., Ruben remained committed to the office of education. He served as consultant for the California State University, helping to design the SCU Microwave TV Network from Chico State to CSUF in Fresno, to COS in Visalia. One year later the Superintendent of Schools ordered instructional television to shut down transmissions.
From 1987 to 1994 Ruben worked as a sales representative for various vendors, selling professional broadcast equipment throughout the San Joaquin Valley. He worked with such firms as Ventura TV, Pro Video, and Jack C. Arbuckle.
In 1994, the Fresno County Office of Education wanted to start up instructional TV again, and Ruben was contacted. He began June 1, 1994 as an ITV engineer. Under the direction of Dr. Don Gregory, Sprint installed eight digital TV channels that only the schools could receive. Ruben’s job was to maintain and train schools and their staff on the new technology.
Dr. Gregory sent Ruben to the Legion of Valor Museum to troubleshoot a sound system in the podium. On completion of the troubleshooting, Museum Director Charles (Chuck) Monges presented Ruben with a museum ball cap and a salute. (This was an extremely special moment for Ruben that he was to never forget.)
Ruben retired in 1999 from the Fresno County Office of Education and accepted employment with Fresno AG Productions as both cameraman and support engineer. He took crews to such places as Reno, NV, Cheyenne, WY and Ogalala, NE to set up satellite cattle auctions. American beef was sold all over the United States, Canada, Mexico, and South America, and literally millions of Dollars’ worth of cattle was auctioned in this manner.
During one of Ruben’s trips to Cheyenne, he took his bride of 50 years back to where they honeymooned and began their life together. It was a reliving of their “Happy Trails” together. On the way back, they decided to spend time visiting historical sites and followed the Oregon Trail. Since 2005 Ruben has been on the Special Projects staff at the Veterans Memorial Museum, “Home of the Legion of Valor.”