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Edward Roybal; congressman represented LA district 30 years

LOS ANGELES -- Edward R. Roybal, a pioneering Hispanic leader who spent three decades in Congress as an advocate for minorities, the poor, and the elderly, died Monday at a Pasadena hospital of respiratory failure complicated by pneumonia. He was 89.

Mr. Roybal, whose death was announced by the office of his daughter, US Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard of California, also served for more than a decade on the Los Angeles City Council.

When Mr. Roybal was elected to the House in 1962, he was the first Hispanic from California to serve in Congress since 1879. He was a founding member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in 1976.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa praised him as a champion for civil rights and social justice. Congressman Roybal ''served as a symbol of Latino hopes and dreams," he said.

After serving in the Army during World War II, Mr. Roybal returned to Los Angeles to serve as director of health education for the Los Angeles County Tuberculosis and Health Association.

Following an unsuccessful bid for City Council in 1947, he created the Community Service Organization, launching an effort against discrimination in housing, employment, and education.

The organization held voter registration and get-out-the-vote efforts in East Los Angeles and supported Mr. Roybal's second, and successful, run for City Council in 1949.

Elected to Congress in 1962, Mr. Roybal, a Democrat, served on various committees, including foreign and veterans affairs. In 1967, he was credited with writing the first bilingual education bill to provide assistance for special bilingual teaching programs.

In 1978, Mr. Roybal was reprimanded by the House for accepting a $1,000 gift from South Korean lobbyist Tongsun Park.

In the 1980s, he served as chairman of the Select Committee on Aging, leading a campaign for the restoration of funding for senior programs.

Mr. Roybal chose not to run for reelection in 1992. That same year, his daughter, also a Democrat, was elected to Congress, where she represents part of her father's old district.

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