I met Alberto in the fall of 1973 at Notre Dame where we both studied for graduate degrees. Al was a gregarious Chicano who hungered for knowledge and social justice. He was a very good friend to so many, a valued teacher to thousands, and a genuine humanitarian. Dr. Alberto Guardiola Mata Jr. of Lawton, OK passed away of kidney failure Saturday December 22, 2018 at the age of 69.  
Born in El Paso, TX, Al earned his BA and MA (1970, 1971), from the University of Oklahoma.  He received his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Notre Dame in 1978. Albert was the first in his family to obtain each level of degree. He studied with Dr. Julian Samora, our nation’s first Mexican American sociologist, at ND.
In 2013, Dr. Mata retired as professor emeritus from the University of Oklahoma. He led an illustrious career, was a National Institute of Health Post-Doctoral Fellow, and served as a professor of Sociology for over 30 years. He taught at the University of Wisconsin, Texas, California (Berkeley), Arizona State University and Northeastern.
Alberto was well known to Chicano@ and Latino@ scholars across the country as he presented his work at NACCS conferences for many years. Alberto had an indomitable spirit and dedicated his career to improving people’s lives through his research on gangs, drugs and HIV and their effects on community. He had over four dozen publications; we published jointly in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.   
Dr. Mata was a staunch and articulate advocate who served on advisory boards including Oklahoma Department of Health, National Community AIDS Partnership, National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute of Drug Abuse. In 1987, he was selected to serve on the Presidential Commission on HIV Epidemic as a Senior Adviser. He taught classes for the Department of Defense traveling worldwide to teach service members, as he grew up in a military family.
Most importantly, Alberto was a kind, generous, engaging, bilingual human being. His infectious, hearty laugh often followed his own ironic, sarcastic and witty observations of human folly. He would give you the shirt off his back and he never met a stranger. He treated everyone like family and his family was the community, no exceptions. Al opened his home to students who didn’t have a place on holidays.
Alberto taught thousands over the course of his career and these students are part of his lasting legacy. We will always miss and remember Alberto as our cherished friend, colleague, advisor, teacher, and keen, witty, entertaining jokester. He is survived by his brothers Antonio, Armando, Arturo (Sheryl) and sisters Martha Torres and Lydia (Phillip Easton). Alberto Mata, presente!
*Written by and photos provided by Estevan Flores, Ph.D. of Denver, CO. Estevan was a life-long friend of Alberto. Estevan is retired and was formerly professor of Sociology at the University of Colorado Boulder and Executive Director of the Latino/a Research & Policy Center at the University of Colorado at Denver.