In Memoriam: Luis Roberto Polanco

Luis Roberto Polanco (1927 – May 21, 2006) was called home by the Great Spirit on May 21st 2006, after sharing his life with family & friends for 78 years.

Born in Cuero, Texas, Luis also lived in Houston, and Victoria Texas. He was born to Sevada Soceda and Manuel Polanco on July 6th 1927, but believed his birthday was June 6th for many years. His mother died when he was only 7 years old and at 14 years of age, Luis joined World War ll, after saying that he was 18. Luis served in the Navy and Marines in World War II and earned many distinguished medals for his service.

Luis proudly led a life of sobriety for over 45 years, and transformed that into a career as an Alcohol & Drug Abuse Counselor, in his quest to help others. After arriving in Portland, Oregon in 1970 after living in California for many years, Luis was instrumental in the creation of several Alcoholics Anonymous and other recovery programs, and was the first Spanish speaking / bilingual alcohol and drug counselor here in Oregon. He brought the first Narcotics Anonymous book to Oregon, and helped start meetings here in Oregon, later he helped form the first Spanish speaking Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. He was presented with numerous awards for his tireless dedication to helping the Hispanic and Native American Communities. He was the first and only unanimous winner of the HADIN Award for his work with the homeless.

Luis had the unique ability of finding friends wherever he went.

He was married twice, and had six children and 13 grandchildren who love him dearly and will miss him very much. Luis also has several sisters in Texas, and nephews and nieces in Texas.

He will be deeply missed.


Luis was the Treatment Director and Program Manager for Centro Familiar de la Esperanza in Portland, Oregon, a program of the Oregon Chicano Concilio on Alcohol and Drug Abuse. Without a list of degrees or merits to his credit, Luis is responsible for the counseling and outpatient program, an Oregon Together prevention program and an outpatient program for Latino juvenile probationers referred from the Multnomah County Juvenile Justice Division. Luis has gained this position of prominence through years of hard work and perseverance, based on hands-on experience and training, especially in the areas associated with alcoholism, family counseling, and recovery programs. Luis was also the chairman, co-founder and director of the Oregon Latino Commission on Drug and Alcohol Abuse from 1978 through 1979.