Educator, historian and public servant

Dr. Pedro Cruz Sanchez (29 June 1925 – 15 August 1987),  known as “Doc,” was a prolific educator, historian and public servant who served as the president of the University of Guam, and published several landmark books that document Guam’s history.

Sanchez was born to education pioneer and Guam legislator Simon Sanchez and Antonia Cruz. His siblings are Julia S. Takano, Adriano Cristobal C. Sanchez, Frank C. Sanchez, Rosario S. Crisostomo, Gregorio C. Sanchez, and Vicenta S. Dannelly.

After World War II, Sanchez graduated from St. Thomas University, Minnesota, obtained his Masters degree in Education from Columbia University and then became Guam’s first PhD in Education, obtaining his doctorate from Stanford University.

In 1955, Sanchez wed Florida Galea’i of American Samoa. They had seven children: Simon II, Anthony Peter, Antolina, Florida, Dolores, Paul and Amanda.

Public service abroad

Sanchez served abroad in public education and workforce development. During the 1960’s, he served as Director of Education of the Virgin Islands, Deputy Director of the Peace Corps in the Philippines under Robert Sargent Shriver, brother-in-law to then President Kennedy,  as well as working for the Federal government in Panama, San Francisco and Washington DC in job training and education.

Dean and University of Guam President

Working with his father, long time educator Simon A. Sanchez, he helped establish and became Dean of the Territorial College of Guam, the predecessor of the University of Guam. He later served as the second President of the University of Guam (1970-74). He was especially proud of encouraging and mentoring young CHamorus, Guamanians and Micronesians to pursue higher education so they could teach the next generation of students from the region. His faculty and staff included future UOG presidents Wilfred Leon Guerrero, Rosa Roberto Carter, John Salas and Robert Underwood.

In a speech at the University of Guam Sanchez said:

“I have in my mind an institutional character that reflects the geography, the culture, the goals, the aspiration, and the priority needs of the society that is Guam and Micronesia. I have in mind a university…where Guamanian and Micronesian history, culture, art, music, economies, government, sociology and all other aspects of Guamanian and Micronesian lives are made meaningful in the programs and in the disciplines which we offer…”

Sanchez later served three Guam governors at the Department of Education and Guam Community College. He was a lifelong proponent of job training and education, especially encouraging GovGuam workers to pursue more training and education during their public service. To that end, a UOG scholarship to aid GovGuam workers pursue further education is named after him. The Pedro “Doc” Sanchez Scholarship, funded by GovGuam, has helped hundreds of government workers enhance their skills and knowledge through higher learning.

Sanchez ran unsuccessfully for Governor (1974), Congressional Delegate (1976) and Lieutenant Governor (1978) with former Governor Ricardo J. Bordallo. In 1986, Sanchez was elected a Senator in the Guam Legislature. Governor Joseph F. Ada then asked Sanchez to represent the Legislature as Vice Chairman of the Commission on Self-Determination while Guam began its pursuit of changes to its colonial status with the United States.

In a speech, “Paradox in Paradise” given in 1972, Sanchez said:

“I believe that America’s political and economic systems, left to themselves to run their set courses, do not guarantee a good life for all. We have only to see the millions and millions of Americans being discriminated upon and the millions living in poverty and deprivation to illustrate my point. 

“As we know, all the money in America has not made life for every American citizen…a pleasant one. We should not let our preoccupation with gross territorial project blind us to the hazards that this preoccupation poses to the maintenance of a good quality of life in Guam. We should not develop Guam to the point where we find no time and no place on the island to enjoy living.

“We can’t lead America economically. We can’t lead it politically. I believe, however, that we can lead the way for the rest of the country, and perhaps the rest of the world in raising the quality of life for all. This, in the long-run, is the best contribution we can make to ourselves and our island home and to America and the world.”

Author, historian

Throughout his life, Sanchez made strides to contribute to the record of Guam history by publishing shorter works about Guam during and before World War II “Uncle Sam Please Come Back to Guam,” “Guam were the Days.”  A lifelong photographer as well, Sanchez collected and took thousands of pictures of Guam during the 20th century, many of which are still published today.

His efforts became the building blocks for the work of future historians about the island and culture. In 1964, Sanchez and Paul Carano co-authored and published “A Complete History of Guam.” Sanchez was Guam’s first native born historian. He updated the “Complete History” when he wrote “Guahan Guam: The History of Our Island,” which was published posthumously by Sanchez Publishing House in 1991.

Guahan Guam” was one of the first published efforts to document the island’s history from an indigenous CHamoru perspective. In the book’s foreword, Sanchez’s wife and publisher, Florida, writes that Sanchez “…deeply enjoyed telling the story of his island; a story of love, strength, perseverance, and dignity.”

Florida explained that Sanchez wrote the book for the children of Guam so that “…they may know the history of this island, and perhaps face the future with a sense of pride and direction.” Florida also shared that Sanchez’s dream was for the people of Guam to continually preserve the island’s culture, and that his history book is a contribution to that dream.

Sanchez passed away on 16 August 1987 at the age of 62.

By Samantha Marley Barnett

For further reading

Carano, Paul and Sanchez, Pedro C., A Complete History of Guam, Charles E. Tuttle Co., Rutland, Vermont, 1964.

Political Status Education Coordinating Commission,  Hale’-ta, I Manfåyi: Who’s Who in Chamorro History. Hagåtña: Political Status Education Coordinating Commission, 1995.

Sanchez, Pedro C., Guahan Guam: The History of Our Island, Pedro Sanchez, Sanchez Publishing House, 1991.