Dr. Americo Rivera, Jr.

Obituary of Dr. Americo Rivera, Jr.

Dr. Americo Rivera, Jr., passed away peacefully on September 23, 2017. Born in New York City on August 22, 1928, he was the oldest son of Americo and Emma Rivera.  He grew up in New York City, where his father owned a book binding business.  He joined the U.S. Army at the age of 18, and served for the Army Medics.  He separated from service in 1949 and attended college on the G.I. bill.  He was the first in his family to graduate from college, and the first in his family to earn a doctorate.

After his military service, he moved to Puerto Rico, where his parents relocated after selling the business in New York, and enrolled at the University of Puerto Rico.  While studying at the University of Puerto Rico, he met Evelyn, his first and only love and with whom he was married to for 57 years until her death on January 5, 2015. 

After earning his undergraduate degree, Americo moved back to New York City, where he attended Fordham University for his masters and Columbia University for his doctorate.  During his graduate school years in the 1950s, he encountered racial discrimination from his professors, and he worked harder to overcome those the barriers and earned his doctorate degree.

Americo had a prosperous career as a scientist and retired from the National Institutes of Health, where he worked as a grant administrator. While at the National Institutes of Health, he was active with the Bridges Program, a program that helps students in associate’s or master’s programs make the transition to the next level of training (bachelor’s or Ph.D.).  Americo believed in the power of knowledge and that knowledge can change anyone’s world for the better. 

He had many hobbies, which spanned from photography to bible study.   He gave selflessly and devoted his life to his wife and children. 

Americo, who was lovingly known as “Sonny” by his family and “Viejo” by his grandchildren, is preceded in death by his wife Evelyn, his brother Louie, and parents.  He is survived by his cousin Elaine Maduro of the Bronx, New York; his four children Alan of Lancaster, Pa., Yvette (Cliff) of Reston, Va., Venessa (Vince) of Milton, Fl., Glen (Julie) of Leesburg, Va.; and seven grandchildren Kimberly, Caitlyn, Christina, Chloe, Mark, Rhea, and Ciaran.

Memorial contributions in lieu of flowers may be made to his favorite charity, SOME (So Others Might Eat), 71 O Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20001, www.some.org.