Archive for the ‘California’ Category

Gilbert Saldivar (FS ’00)

Houston native making Hollywood dreams come true, and wants to bring some of it back to Space City / Gilbert Saldivar once walked the halls of Milby High School and the University of Houston. He’s gone on to big things in Hollywood.

Author: Jennifer Reyna
Published: 8:54 AM CDT June 16, 2024
Updated: 8:54 AM CDT June 16, 2024

HOUSTON — A Houston native is using his experience of working with megastars to inspire the next generation of dancers in Space City.

Dancer and actor Gilbert Saldivar has gone from the Bayou City to the City of Angels, making his Hollywood dreams come true for years now.

Saldivar was once seen walking the halls of Milby High School and the University of Houston. That was before getting his big break. Now he’s hoping to inspire others back in his hometown.
“I want to encourage Houston creatives, not just dancers, to go after that dream because I did that back about 22 years ago and it’s still happening,” he said. “And it’s exciting.”
Saldivar has worked side by side with megastars like J-Lo, Christina Aguilera, Madonna, Janet Jackson and more.

“I didn’t really know the caliber of artist I was auditioning for,” he said. “And I think that made it easier for me.”

He says that lack of fear set him apart from others auditioning when he first started, but it all goes back to things he learned right here in Houston, as he spent time preparing for the opportunities he’d later have. It started when he was just five years old, hanging out in the back of his sister’s folklorico classes, learning the moves for fun.

Saldivar says his community played a big role in his success. He was a recipient of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo scholarship, which propelled him in the right direction. He then took his dancing talents to the Houston Rockets and Comets, then later to California, landing on stages like the 2024 Oscars.

“So I was one of the cowboys back there dancing with Ryan Gosling,” he said.
He’s also in “This Is Me,” a movie based on Jennifer Lopez’s latest album. Needless to say, his dreams have turned into reality.

Now his eyes are set on Houston.

“I want local artists to know that we can be creative here at home, and if, for whatever reason, your situation doesn’t allow you to move to Los Angeles or New York or Miami, that we can create stuff here,” he said. “So I’m trying my best to kind of bring it back home, to bring that that community of artists that I step into in L.A., I want to feel that here at home.”

So he is putting his star power to good use.
“Now I feel like I want to lay a more solid foundation where where I provide a space where I bring L.A. acting coaches and musicians and singers and actors to collaborate with local talent.”

Fred Couples (’80)

Fred Couples, who played golf at UH and roomed with Jim Nantz for a while on campus, was the best golfer in the world, having won the Masters to become the first American to be ranked No. 1. He went on to become 1992 player of the year. He was the April 20, 1992 cover of Sports Illustrated.

Brock Luty (Ph.D. ’93)

BROCK ALLEN LUTY PHD Brock Allen Luty PhD, 58, of Poway, CA, passed away on April 3, 2023, surrounded by his wife and daughters at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla due to complications that arose after open heart surgery. Brock was born November 19, 1964, in Kansas City, Missouri and was adopted into the welcoming home of Robert and Virginia Luty of McPherson Kansas. He was joined soon after by brother Jeff and sister Denise and together they became a very loving and close family. He was an inquisitive child that was known to take things apart to figure out how they worked although not always getting them back together again. Throughout his middle and high school years, Brock was active in sports, almost always had at least one job, loved to ride his motorcycle and played the first Atari games. His interest in computers and programing was strong from the very beginning and his first Macintosh 512K still sits in his office at home. His family was active in the First Christian Church and have many stories of the youth group activities and the closeness of those friends. It was at a youth group meeting that he met his future wife Jo Strobel who attended while visiting her sister during the summer. He spent most of his 1st period electronics class his senior year writing her letters and their friendship and love continued to grow throughout college even though she attended rival KU. Brock attended Kansas State University and was a member of Beta Theta Pi. He developed strong friendships during pledge training that continue to this day. His return to KSU his sophomore year was delayed after he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Radiation therapy put his cancer into remission, and he was able to return to complete his chemical engineering degree in 1987. He became interested in computational methods for simulating biochemical systems and studied under Dr. Andy McCammon at the University of Houston. Once again, his schooling was delayed as he suffered another battle with Hodgkin’s and underwent Chemotherapy treatments which successfully cured his cancer. In 1990, he married Jo in a small ceremony in Houston and they spent their free time watching theater in the park and enjoying all that Houston had to offer. It was during this time that his friends introduced him to many international traditions and foods and spurred his desire to see more of the world. His final semester at UH was spent writing his thesis and taking care of son Braxton who was born in January. In May 1993, he earned his Ph.D. in chemical physics and his parents proudly attended his ceremony and that of his brother Jeff who obtained his Optometry Doctorate the same day. After being awarded a fellowship in the Human Frontiers program, he continued his studies in applied molecular simulation techniques at the ETH in Zurich as a postdoctoral student with Prof. Wilfred van Gunsteren. During his time in Switzerland, he and Jo welcomed their first daughter Juliet. Brock and Jo enjoyed traveling throughout Europe during this time and welcoming family when they came to visit. After 2 years in Zurich, an opportunity arose to return to the United States and join Agouron Pharmaceuticals to help develop novel structure-based drug discovery methods. He loved working with this group and seeing the drug discovery process from the ground up. After determining that they really loved living in San Diego, they moved to Carlsbad and welcomed their third child Isabel into their family. Brock continued working with the company through its integration into larger entities and eventually to becoming a part of Pfizer Global Research and Development. He left the company in 2008 after obtaining the position of Associate Research Fellow in Pfizer’s Computational Science Center of Excellence in La Jolla. After a short stint as an independent consultant, he joined Dart Neuroscience as Director of Scientific Computing. It was an exciting and fast paced time of working toward a drug that would help improve memory. After that company closed in 2018, he joined a Hungarian based company called ChemAxon where he helped open the San Diego Office and worked with their Professional Services group. Working with ChemAxon allowed him to switch from management roles to a more hands-on scientific computing. He eventually moved into their core architecture team before leaving the company in 2021. Knowing that he had developed a heart condition due to the radiation treatments he had undergone in his 20’s, Brock and Jo decided it was time to slow down a bit and remove some of the stressors that work and COVID had brought upon everyone. Brock became an independent contractor which allowed him to explore new things and work with a few up-and-coming startups as a consultant and advisor. Although he had recently started to call himself fully retired, he was always looking for new things to learn. He frequently commented that he loved living in a neighborhood that was truly a village where everyone looked after each other and kids played in the streets. He enjoyed attending his children’s school programs and rarely missed a soccer game which was quite a feat with all three playing at the same time. He was very proud of each of his children, and he learned so much from them. Brock loved to travel and try new foods at each place, however he hated to fly and always said there was no such thing as a “good flight”. This didn’t stop him from going anywhere and he had a long list of places he still wanted to go. He was often sending Jo a new idea to add to the list. He had just completed a trip to Hawaii with his brother Jeff and their spouses and splurged on a helicopter ride over the Kilauea Volcano which was active at the time. Brock was preceded in death by his grandparents Luther and Verda Horn and Marvin and Nellie Luty. He is survived by his parents Robert and Virginia Luty of McPherson KS; wife, Jo of Poway CA; children: Braxton (Neil) of Indianapolis, IA, Juliet (Christian) of Oceanside, CA and Isabel (Colin) of Carlsbad, CA.; siblings: Jeff (Mary Kate) Luty of Olathe KS, Denise (Brent) Klaske of Rossville, KS; Sisters in law: Susan (Myron) Edmonston Protection KS, Sally (Mike) Robinson of Lyons KS, Nancy (Rick) Trease of McPherson, KS; brother in law Steve (Jan) Strobel of Bucklin, KS; Half-sister by birth Karen Lloyd and half-brother by birth, John Austin both of Torrance, CA; and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins that are all in our hearts. A private celebration of life will be held on April 22 in Olathe KS. His body was donated to the UCSD Medical School to help the training and knowledge of future doctors and nurses. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that anyone that is physically able to donate blood to do so at their local blood bank. There is a true and never-ending need for blood products in hospitals every day.

Thomas Moy (’71)

The Arizona Historical Society was pleased to announce that this year’s winner of the Don Bufkin Award for best conference paper on territorial Arizona is Thomas B. Moy’s submission, “Solving a Riddle: Uncovering Chinese Monopoly of Tombstone Laundry Industry.” Moy is a former teacher, principal, and warden with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. His articles have appeared in the Journal of the Wild West History Association.

Marla-Tiye Vieira (M.Ed. ’03)

Celebrated Author’s Bittersweet Pilgrimage To South Africa
When celebrated American author Marla-Tiye Vieira recently made a pilgrimage to Cape Town to celebrate her mother’s life, she reached out to White Shark Projects to rekindle a friendship that began 13 years ago.

A Mother And Daughter’s Adventure With White Shark Projects Remembered
Marla had travelled to South Africa with her late mum way back then, and after her death six years ago vowed to return to the place where they had shared wonderful adventures, which included shark cage diving in Kleinbaai with White Shark Projects.

Rekindling Friendships After 13 Years
When White Shark Projects’ Jessica Smit received the call, she was so blown away by the story that she invited Marla to Kleinbaai as a special guest of the company. It was a bittersweet reunion, one where an emotional farewell took place out at sea when Marla released her mum’s ashes into the ocean.

The White Shark Projects team wishes Marla safe travels wherever life may lead her and look forward to seeing her again one day.

Jasmine Breeze (a story by Marla-Tiye Viera)
Marla-Tiye Vieira’s inspirational book Jasmine Breeze deals with oppression caused by gender and race inequality in modern-day society. The work has been described by critics as a great international love story and has received five-star reviews.

“This is a story about Jasmine from Southern Louisiana, her mother a third-generation Irish American, her father an African American, his grandmother a Chippewa Native American, and his grandfather who was the first African American in Louisiana to start his own law firm. Jasmine is studying in Spain where she meets Jose all the while holding secrets about her life and who she really is inside, afraid to share her true self with her family. She learns there are people close to her in her family holding their own secrets as well, this is a story about racism, secrets, love, and the struggles of finding your true self with twists along the way. I enjoyed this read along with appreciating the writing style, was an easy read and I would recommend it to anyone. I definitely will be looking forward to other books from this author.” Phyllis Watson (Rated Five-Stars)

“This author really encapsulates human suffering and guides us on how to make authentic connections. I enjoyed reading every page and I did not want the story to end. Vieira writes with inspiration and excitement. Her travel descriptions make you feel that you are actually a part of the setting. I highly recommend this text to one and all.” Carol (Rated Five-Stars)

Recommended Reading
The White Shark team highly recommend Marla’s book, which is available in paperback and Kindle and can be ordered via Amazon here.

Jaroslav Rysavy (M.B.A. ’98)

In February 2022, Jay celebrated his 15-year anniversary with United Airlines and was upgraded to Captain on Airbus 320.

Jay began private pilot flying lessons in 1998 a few months after Commencement in May 1998 for his MBA in International Business with Honors. He completed the degree and flight training, all while working full time at M W Kellogg Company as an electrical engineer in sales for downstream projects (where he was known as Jarek). He joined a regional airline in 2003 and was hired by Continental Airlines in 2007. Jay previously worked for Ralph M Parsons in Pasadena, California after immigrating from the Czech Republic in 1990 where he graduated with a EE degree in 1988 from ČVUT in Prague.

Jay is type-rated on all United aircraft (Boeing 737, 747, 757-767, 777, 787 and Airbus 320. He was naturalized in 2000. He and his wife, Era N Ford, were married in 1995 and reside in Houston.

April Goldman (MFA ’11)

UH Alum April Goldman to be Published in Ploughshares

Ploughshares, an award-winning journal of new writing,  has announced that “[ into the mountain ]” by April Goldman will be
published in the Spring 2021 issue.

April is a poet living in Truckee, Calif. She earned her MFA in creative writing from the University of
Houston, and her recent work appears in Narrative Magazine, The Kenyon Review Online,
The Journal, and elsewhere.

You can find more information about Ploughshares on their website:

Michael L. Preddy (M.A. ’82)

After graduating with a Master of Music Degree from U.H. in 1982, alum Michael Preddy made appearances on Saturday Night Live with The Smothers Brothers, and continued to work for them as their pianist/conductor and one of their managers for the next twenty-five years.

Michael did approximately three seasons of The New Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour on CBS from 1987 through 1989, and  was heavily involved as pianist and music coordinator, for which he received an Emmy Nomination for Best Musical Direction. Preddy’s  final engagement with The Smothers Brothers was in 2007 with The Austin Symphony in Austin, TX.  Together they has preformed between 100-200 shows a year for tens of thousands of people. At every show during these 25 years, Dick Smothers introduced Preddy to the audience and always made a point of telling the audience that he received his Master of Music Degree from The University of Houston, a fact Preddy is very proud of.

Notable live performances  include The Tonight Show (multiple appearances), the White House Press Photographers, Jones Hall in Houston with the Houston Symphony Pops, The Kennedy Center in D.C. with the National Symphony, and The Hollywood Bowl with the L.A. Philharmonic in 2003.

For his achievements, Preddy received the the Honorable Alumni Award at Pine Tree High School in Longview, TX  in 2001.

Further information can be found on Preddy’s website at

Geoffrey Bergman (’67)

Dr. Geoffrey Bergman passed away on July 21, 2020 in San Diego, CA, at the age of 76.

Geoff was born in New York, NY on May 7, 1944, grew up in Houston, TX, and was a longtime resident of Alexandria, LA. He was raised in the Orthodox Jewish tradition and sang in the choir during the High Holidays. He graduated from Lamar High School, where he lettered in Cross Country track. He attended the University of Texas and the University of Houston, graduating in 1967 with a BS in Psychology. He also received a degree of Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (D.P.M) from the California College of Podiatric Medicine in San Francisco. He practiced as a podiatrist in Alexandria, LA for 41 years. He was a caring physician and was loved by his patients. In Alexandria, he was a member of Congregations Gemiluth Chassodim and B’Nai Israel, where he led services for several years.

Geoff is survived by his wife of 53 years, Vicky, his daughter, Audra Rosenberg, her husband Jonathan, and two adoring grandsons, Parker and Brenner Rosenberg, his brother-and sister-in law, Larry Feldman, Jr. and Susie Morgan of New Orleans, three nieces and two great-nieces, and four first cousins.

Geoff was a SciFi aficionado, a history buff, a scholar of Torah, and an avid fan of Bob Dylan and classic rock. A wonderful husband, father, grandfather, and friend, he will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved him.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions be made to the charity of your choice.

Interment was at Greenwood Cemetery in San Diego on July 24, 2020, with Rabbi Ian Adler officiating.

Richard Kent Marks (O.D. ’70)

Richard Kent Marks, OD, 77, born to Lucille and Leslie Marks on November 6, 1942, in Sheldon, Iowa, passed away of natural causes on April 15, 2020.

Due to the current health situation in the world, there will not be an open ceremony.

Richard is survived by his older sister Judy Lutzi, his three younger brothers Steve, Wesley, Russell, and Richard’s former wife Susan. Richard has three children: Kelby, Marla and Staci, as well as three granddaughters: Natalia, Gabriela, and Tayler. He was proud of the family that he and Susan loved and supported together.

Richard spent most of his early life growing up between Nebraska and Kansas before graduating from the Kansas State Teacher’s College in Emporia in 1966. Later on, he finished his Optometry Doctorate at the University of Houston in 1970 and moved to Derby, Kan., where he established a widely respected and successful 45-year optometry practice.

He was a dedicated and active member in the United Methodist Church, the Kansas Optometric Association, The Optimist Club, and a founder of the Derby Running Club. In all of these organizations he served in leadership and presidential roles over the years. He often talked about his time working on the railroad through college and maintained a fascination with trains all his life. He had a great admiration for his Nebraska roots and his family’s Nebraska/German genealogy. He loved to go on road trips through Kansas and Nebraska looking for remnants of the Santa Fe Trail or to locate small Marks family cemeteries and homesteads. He was a marathon runner. He was an accomplished photographer. He was a fervent Jayhawk basketball fan. He LOVED pie – he would frequently drive 50 miles just to get his favorite rhubarb pie.

He was diagnosed with Frontotemporal Degeneration (FTD) in 2016, and his cognitive and physical health began to fade. At that point, he finally retired and spent more time with his closest friends and family. He eventually moved to Bogota, Colombia, where he spent the better part of a year living with his son, Kelby and two of his granddaughters, Gabriela and Natalia. When his health required more constant and professional care, he moved to San Diego, Calif., where he was able to have more visits and time with his two daughters and granddaughter, Tayler, until he passed away.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration (AFTD):