Friends and co-workers said former CSU professor Amanda Castro was remarkable, never complained.
She remained the eternal optimist even through her 16-year battle against emphysema, which ended when she died in Honduras on March 19. She was 47.
â€œShe was always able to find the positives in life,â€ said Angelica Stoll, program coordinator of CSUâ€™s Community Organizing to Reach Empowerment Center, who was a close friend of Castroâ€™s since they first met in 2006. â€œShe didnâ€™t see barriers. She would say, â€˜Angelica, letâ€™s go. We can do this.â€™â€
Castro was a Spanish professor at CSU from 1997 to 2001. She returned home to Honduras when emphysema, a disease that slowly takes away a victimâ€™s ability to breathe, started to deteriorate her health.
Diagnosed with the disease in 1994, Castro was forced to carry around an oxygen tank with her to help her breath. It never hindered her one bit, those who knew her said, even though doctors only gave her five years to live.
â€œShe never complained,â€ said CORE director Marilyn Thayer. â€œShe was indeed quite remarkable.â€
Described as a â€œstrong advocate of service learningâ€ by friend and colleague Maura Velazquez-Castillo, Castro did service work in America and Honduras.
She got her students at CSU involved in the community by having them translate for predominantly Spanish-speaking people at local health centers.
â€œShe never failed to do her utmost for anyone in need,â€ said Carol Hughes, an administrative assistant in the Foreign Languages Department.
Castro was a believer in the arts and its power as an outlet of expression. As a poet, she wrote about social and political issues affecting Honduras, and toward the end of her life, about her coming death.
A proponent of womenâ€™s rights, she was an activist in Honduras and founded places where women could express themselves through the arts, such as theater and poetry.
In Fort Collins, Castro worked with such places as Sexual Assault Victim Advocate Center, SAVA, which assists battered women in the city. Through SAVA, Castro organized creative writing workshops to â€œgive women a voice.â€
â€œShe was a very passionate woman,â€ said Velazquez-Castillo, who is an assistant professor of Spanish linguistics and who knew Castro since 1998.â€œShe believed very strongly in womenâ€™s rights, as well as human rights. She was all about giving people who were repressed and couldnâ€™t speak their mind.â€
The news of her death came as a shock to those that knew her. Velazquez-Castillo broke the news to Thayer and Stoll.
â€œI was shocked, especially because I thought she was getting better,â€ Thayer said. â€œShe looked so vibrant the last time I saw her. It took all of us by surprise.â€
Stoll, who was a close friend, was left â€œspeechlessâ€ by the news.
â€œI couldnâ€™t believe it,â€ Stoll said. â€œI wasnâ€™t ready for that, but who is ready for that kind of thing?â€
A memorial is in the works for Castro, an event people close to her look forward to.
â€œThere is no sense of closure because it happened in Honduras,â€ Stoll said. â€œI think itâ€™s important to have a memorial in her honor. We need that closure. We need words to say goodbye.â€
Staff writer Joe E. Goings can be reached at email@example.com.