Distinguished Latin American historian Richard Edward Greenleaf died on Tuesday, Nov. 8, in Albuquerque after a long battle with Parkinson's Disease. Until his retirement in 1998, Greenleaf served as the France Vinton Scholes Professor of Colonial Latin American History and director of the Center for Latin American Studies at Tulane University.
Greenleaf was born in Hot Springs, Ark. on May 6, 1930. He grew up in Albuquerque, and earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees at UNM, where he studied under Professor France V. Scholes. Greenleaf authored 11major scholarly books, served as co-author of or contributor to 17 others, and published almost four dozen articles in the field of Latin American and Borderlands history.
Greenleaf served on the editorial boards of several major publications and was the recipient of many awards, including Silver Medal, Sahagun Prize: Mexican National History Award, the Serra Award of the Academy of American Franciscan History for Distinguished Scholarship in Colonial Latin American History, the New Mexico Endowment for the Humanities Award, and the Society for Crypto-Judaic Studies Lifetime Achievement Award.
Greenleaf began his teaching career at the University of Albuquerque in 1953.He moved to Mexico City in 1954, where he taught at the University of the Americas, later serving as chair of the Department of History and International Relations, academic vice-president and dean of the Graduate School.
In 1969, he accepted a faculty position at Tulane University, assuming the directorship of the Center for Latin American Studies the following year, and the chair of the History Department in 1978. In 1982, he was installed in the France Vinton Scholes Chair in Colonial Latin American History.
After his retirement from Tulane, Greenleaf served as adjunct research professor at UNM. In his long teaching career in New Mexico, Mexico City and New Orleans, Greenleaf served as mentor to 34 doctoral students, and countless masters and undergraduate students.
Susan Tiano, director of the UNM Latin American & Iberian Institute, said, "Dr. Greenleaf had a tremendous impact on not only colonial studies but also Latin American Studies writ large. He dedicated his life to scholarship, teaching, mentoring and Latin American Studies administration. There is no doubt that his legacy will continue to make a difference and inform Latin American Studies."
Greenleaf was honored at a reception this past August by University Libraries, the UNM Latin American & Iberian Institute and the UNM Foundation for a lifetime of scholarship and giving. Greenleaf has given nearly $1.2 million to UNM. He continues to support the Greenleaf Student Fellowship, the Greenleaf Visiting Library Scholar Program and the Greenleaf Crypto-Judaism program.
The event was hosted at University House and drew friends, students and colleagues from across the country and Mexico to celebrate the publication of "The Inquisition in Colonial Latin America: Selected Writings of Richard E. Greenleaf" published by the Academy of American Franciscan History.
Martha Bedard, dean, University Libraries, said, "Dr. Greenleaf's contributions to the UNM University Libraries' Center for Southwest Research and Special Collection have helped provide the next generation of scholars access to primary resources that were not widely available. His legacy is a testament to his lifetime of scholarship and generous giving."
Greenleaf is survived by his sister-in-law, Carla Greenleaf, nephews Randy and Robert, and several great-nieces and nephews.
Arrangements for funeral service and memorial service are pending.