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Puerto Rican historian Fernando Picó dies at 75

By on June 27, 2017

SAN JUAN – Historian and Jesuit priest Fernando Picó died this Tuesday morning, his colleagues confirmed. He was 75 years old.

The academic had been facing health problems for months, and felt very ill Monday. On Tuesday morning one of priests in the Jesuit residence in Cupey, found him dead in his room, Father Jorge Ferrer explained.

Father Picó was born on Aug. 15, 1941, in Santurce and he went to Colegio San Ignacio.

The renowned historian focused his studies on Puerto Rico in the 20th century and is considered the highest authority in this area of study.

Father Picó’s ecclesiastical inclinations began during his time in San Ignacio. He then moved stateside and then earned his bachelor’s degree in Springfield College.

He then studied at Johns Hopkins University and his religious inclination led him to join the Jesuits and become a priest.

Throughout his career, Picó stood out for his dedication to helping the less fortunate, as well as the study of Puerto Rico’s history. He made his final vows as a priest in 1971 and then finished his doctorate in History. His education included studies in Spain and Italy as well.

Throughout his extensive academic trajectory, Father Picó served as professor of Puerto Rican history in the University of Puerto Rico and several other universities in the mainland U.S.

He is considered one of the island’s great intellectuals and historians of Puerto Rico, and was published by magazines and newspapers on the island and abroad. One of his most distinguished works, “Puerto Rico: historia general,” is mandatory in the island’s history curriculum.

Father Picó’s numerous newspaper articles carry a positive message on how to improve quality of life in Puerto Rico. Picó also wrote children’s stories, such as “La peinilla colorada.”

For many fellow scholars, especially in UPR Río Piedras’ History Department, he is seen as a model for future historians due to his dedication and commitment.

“I received the news of the death of Fernando Picó with deep sadness. He was a great friend of my family, of my mother, Carmiña Gautier. In fact, it was he who gave her the last blessing before my mother’s passing,” former Puerto Rico Senate President Eduardo Bhatia said in a written statement.

“Our aspiration must be to one day attain the spirituality and empathy that distinguished him throughout his life. Today we say goodbye to a great human being, but we are sure that his example and his teachings marked generations and will last forever. I celebrate and thank him very much for his life,” he added.

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