Philanthropist, Civic Leader and East Los Angeles College Alumnus Dr. Richard Zapanta Legacy Remembered

June 28, 2021
News Media Contact:
Kevin Jimenez, Public Information Officer
(323) 265-8807 |

MONTEREY PARK, CA- East Los Angeles community pays tribute to the philanthropist, civic leader, and East Los Angeles College (ELAC) Alumnus Dr. Richard Zapanta by establishing the East Los Angeles College (ELAC) Dr. Richard Zapanta Legacy Fund Scholarship. A fourth-generation Mexican-American, Dr. Zapanta was born and raised in East Los Angeles. He graduated from Garfield High School, East Los Angeles College, living across the street from the college for several years, and received his bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Southern California in 1968. In 1973, he received his medical degree from the Keck School of Medicine of USC. He completed a one-year straight surgical internship, oneyear neurology residency, and a four-year orthopedic residency at the LAC+USC Medical Center. Dr. Zapanta had been in private practice since 1979 and was the senior partner of Eastside Orthopedic Medical Associates, through which he served the community where he was raised.

Dr. Zapanta built a respected legacy of philanthropy and civic leadership. He served as Treasurer of the LAC+USC Medical Center Foundation, Inc., committing much of his time and passion to the conceptualization and implementation of the Foundation's flagship program, The Wellness Center at the Historic General Hospital. Over the years, his philanthropic leadership inspired him to serve as a director and trustee on numerous boards, including Children's Hospital Los Angeles, Whittier College, AltaMed Health Services Foundation, the Vincent Price Art Museum Foundation, and the LA Health Foundation. Furthermore, Dr. Zapanta contributed his time and talent in support of the East Los Angeles College Foundation, Latino Medical Student Association, National Hispanic Medical Association, Orthopedic Research, and Educational Fund, National Medical Fellowships, COPE Health Solutions, and the Getty Museum. He was a founding member of the Museum of Latin American Art and Promérica Bank.

Thirty-eight years ago, Dr. Zapanta was a founding member of the USC Mexican American Alumni Scholarship Fund that has given 7,500 scholarships and raised upwards of 14 million dollars. Dr. Zapanta served on the Advisory Board of the local chapter and national organization of the Latino Medical Student Association at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. He also chaired the Dr. John R Hubbard Recognition Award Committee, which annually awards an exceptional undergraduate Latino student. Dr. Zapanta took pride in hosting a yearly scholarship to a deserving Garfield High School graduate and annually sponsored a high school student for the Keck School of Medicine of USC Med-COR Summer Work Program. He frequently mentored high school, college, and medical students and served on the Keck School of Medicine of USC Admissions Committee for many years. The passion he and his wife Rebecca had for Mexican art has resulted in a significant collection of 20th-century Mexican art, amassed over 30 years, including examples of nearly all of the relevant styles and primary figures. The collection has been exhibited in numerous museums throughout the United States and was recently shown in international venues in Hong Kong and the Philippines and was featured as part of the Getty Museum's Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA exhibition. A defining characteristic of their collection is the personal friendships that the Zapantas established with the artists, resulting in public commissions for Mexican artists across the United States.

“ELAC gave my Dad, a young Latino from East LA, the opportunity and foundation to change the course of his and his family’s life. My Dad always humbly recognized ELAC’s instrumental role in his successful orthopedic surgery career. My grandmother Adeline Zapanta attended ELAC after both of her sons became surgeons with similar dreams. She ultimately became a nurse in her 50s. We hope this scholarship is utilized in the spirit of the Zapanta Family Legacy and as a vehicle to help others achieve their success.” Gina Zapanta

"Dr. Zapanta is a True Champion for the Eastside, through his advocacy, philanthropic generosity & example of success. Our students see themselves in him. My Board colleagues and I are thrilled to establish the Dr. Richard Zapanta Legacy Scholarship as he embodies our mission to Transform Lives of the students we serve. A sincere Thank You to Gina and Zapanta Family for continued commitment to the ELAC community," said ELAC Foundation Treasurer/Board Member, Kassandra Sánchez.

"We are honored to recognize and pay tribute to Dr. Zapanta's legacy through this scholarship fund. Dr. Zapanta epitomizes what it means to pay it forward. He was a compassionate philanthropic and civic leader who never forgot his roots and understood the importance of helping his community through educational access. Dr. Zapanta was a champion of student equity and increasing student success and his legacy will live on through this scholarship fund that will directly help the next generation of community leaders," said ELAC President, Alberto J. Roman.

Dr. Zapanta is survived by his wife Rebecca, five children, Gina, Valerie, Joseph, Gregory, and Richard Jr., and his three grandchildren, Sofia, Valentina and Arthur.
To learn more about the Scholarship, please visit the Dr Richard Zapanta Legacy Fund Scholarship.

ELAC is in its 75 the year as an academic institution and continues to serve the Los Angeles area with education needs. This academic year is a celebration of our past and an excitement for our future. To learn more about some of the key alumni in our 75 years of history please click here.

Click Here to Donate to The Dr. Richard Zapanta Legacy Fund Scholarship