Aurelio Espinosa Jr. dead at 97

Aurelio Espinosa Jr.

Aurelio Espinosa Jr.

Aurelio Macedonio Espinosa Jr., 97, professor emeritus of Spanish and an expert on Spanish linguistics and folklore, died in Palo Alto on June 4. Espinosa, the author of widely used Spanish-language textbooks, was a faculty member for 26 years and served as an executive head of the Department of Modern European Languages. He retired in 1972.

Espinosa was born on May 3, 1907, in Albuquerque, N.M., and moved to Palo Alto when his father, Aurelio Espinosa, joined the Stanford faculty in 1910. Espinosa Jr. earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Stanford in 1927 and 1928, respectively, and a doctorate from the University of Madrid in 1932.

From 1932 until 1936, Espinosa conducted fieldwork in Spain and Portugal as a collaborator on the Linguistic Atlas of Spain and Portugal. He also collected folk tales in Spain, where his work was interrupted by the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. Espinosa later taught at Harvard University and was an instructor of Spanish, Portuguese and Russian at the U.S. Military Academy during World War II.

Espinosa joined the faculty at Stanford in 1946, the same year that his father retired. "He and my grandfather kind of dovetailed," said his son, Ramon Espinosa, of Palo Alto. Aurelio Espinosa Sr. specialized in the evolution of Spanish American folklore, collected from the American Southwest, and also authored numerous textbooks.

His father derived equal satisfaction from research and teaching, his son said. "On one hand, my father's real passion was linguistics and the evolution of the Spanish dialect," said Ramon Espinosa, who recalled his father taking down a copy of the Linguistic Atlas to show him his work. But his father also was very pleased to have made contributions through his textbooks and teaching to Spanish language education in the United States, Espinosa said. "He felt it was important for people to effectively communicate with one another" and to further communication between people in the United States and Mexico and Latin America, he said.

In 1945, Espinosa was elected a corresponding member of the Royal Spanish Academy. In 1995, he was inducted into the El Centro Chicano Hall of Fame, which recognizes distinguished Stanford alumni.

He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Iraida Espinosa, of Palo Alto; daughters Margarita Smith of Mount Vernon, Wash., and Maria Shipley of Redwood City; his son; and seven grandchildren. Memorial contributions may be sent to Knights of Columbus Council 2677, Box 515, Palo Alto, CA 94301, or to Neighbors Abroad, Box 52004, Palo Alto, CA 94303.