In memoriam: Hesburgh Trustee Ignacio Lozano Jr.

Author: Dennis Brown

Candles in the Grotto

Ignacio “Nacho” Lozano Jr., a Hesburgh Trustee of the University of Notre Dame and the retired publisher of the Spanish-language newspaper La Opinión, died Dec. 27. He was 96.

“The University of Notre Dame is proud to call Nacho an alumnus, a Trustee and a cherished friend,” said Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., Notre Dame’s president. “Even as we mourn his passing, we celebrate a life well-lived as a distinguished journalist, public servant, husband and father. Our prayers are with his family and many friends.”

Lozano was born in San Antonio, Texas, on Jan. 15, 1927, just four months after his father Ignacio Sr. founded La Opinión. According to a Los Angeles Times profile, the young Lozano “never questioned his future. Though he considered himself neither as dedicated a publisher nor as talented a writer as his father, he knew that he would study journalism.”

That he did, matriculating to Notre Dame and earning a journalism degree in 1947.

Upon his father’s passing in 1953, Lozano took over the newspaper and built it into the largest Spanish-language publication in the nation, and second only in circulation in Los Angeles to the Times.

La Opinión evolved through the years from covering just news from Mexico and about Mexicans to coverage of issues in Los Angeles that affect Latinos. Lozano once said: “Our mission was no longer to be a Mexican newspaper published in Los Angeles, but an American newspaper that happens to be published in Spanish.”

Lozano turned over day-to-day operation of the publication to his children in the mid-1980s but remained actively involved in the business until 2004.

Throughout his tenure, Lozano stayed true to his father’s commitment to objective journalism. “Being honest with our readers, playing it straight in our dealings with the political world, not allowing influence by our advertisers, trying to present the news as honestly as we can,” he told the Times.

Lozano’s only hiatus from La Opinión came in 1976 when President Gerald Ford appointed him ambassador to El Salvador. The assignment lasted just nine months due to Ford’s loss in the 1976 presidential election to Jimmy Carter.

After witnessing violence perpetrated against Catholic priests and liberal political figures in El Salvador, Lozano testified before a House subcommittee in 1977 about the “campaign of vilification” the government was waging against the Catholic Church. Three years later Archbishop Óscar Romero was assassinated.

Prior to his ambassadorship, Lozano was appointed a consultant to the U.S. State Department by President Lyndon Johnson, the Council of the Californias by then-Gov. Ronald Reagan and the advisory Council on Spanish-Speaking Americans by President Richard Nixon.

Lozano served on the boards of some of the most prestigious corporate, cultural and philanthropic institutions in Los Angeles and the nation, including BankAmerica Corp., the Walt Disney Co., Pacific Life, Sempra Energy, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the California Community Foundation. He was also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Knights of Malta.

The recipient of an honorary degree from Notre Dame, Lozano was elected a Trustee of the University in 1983 and became an Emeritus Trustee in 1997 and a Hesburgh Trustee in 2019. He was a generous donor to the University’s Latino Studies Scholars Program and served on the Latino Studies Advisory Council.

Lozano was preceded in death in 2018 by Marta Navarro Lozano, his wife of 67 years. He is survived by his daughters Monica Cecilia Lozano and Leticia Eugenia Lozano, his sons Jose Ignacio Lozano and Francisco Antonio Lozano, and nine grandchildren.

A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 2 p.m. Saturday (Jan. 6) at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Newport Beach, California.