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The Ugo Anakwenze Family:  (from left):  Eze, Ebere, Ugo, and Odera.

In Memoriam: Ugo Anakwenze
by  Maria Raptis
Issue Date: 07/2010

(click on photo to enlarge and for caption)

Sadly, Caltrans District 7 lost a great employee and a friend to many with the passing of Ugo (Ugochukwu) Anakwenze, senior transportation engineer in the Utilities Design Unit.

Ugo Boniface Anakwenze, 55, passed away suddenly on the afternoon of June 3, while hospitalized. He had hoped to be released later that day. He is survived by his wife, Ebere, and two sons - Odera, a high school senior, and Eze, who graduated from Palos Verdes Peninsula High School on June 10.

Ugo worked for the Department for over 26 years, and supervised the Utilities Engineering Unit since 1995. He previously worked in the Hydraulics and Maintenance Support units. He joined Caltrans immediately after obtaining his civil engineering degree at California State University, Los Angeles.  Ugo was a member of the Professional Engineers in California Government, Los Angeles Section.

“He was always calm, cool, cheerful and kind. Ugo was a skilled diplomat with staff and clients,” said Jerrel Kam, chief, Office of Design A. “His patience allowed him to never show any stress or worries about meeting a project deadline even though he had just cause as every project - big and small - had to have a utility clearance signed by Ugo. It was a privilege to work with him; he will be greatly missed.”

As he wished, Ugo will be buried in his native homeland of Abagana, Nigeria, where he was a respected member of the Igbo community. He remained passionate, committed and active in the issues of Igboland, particularly improvement of sanitation, utility and medical care facilities, the mitigation of soil erosion, and education of its youth.

At Caltrans, Ugo was an active participant in the annual Diversity and Disability Day activities. He gladly dressed in full native dress of a Igboland village chief and was an advocate for the rights of the physically challenged in the workplace, as he too was stricken with childhood polio. Yet, he never allowed that to be an issue as he played soccer in his early college years in Onitsha, Nigeria.

“Every day, he told me, ‘Mitra, I must help humanity,’ ” said Mitra Vahid, a staff member and a long-time friend.

District 7 employees are welcome to sign a card or contribute financially to the “Ugo Anakwenze Donation Fund” to help defer expenses (California Bear Credit Union –Temporary Account #998800). Contact Caltrans staff Mitra Vahid, Suzie Kearns, or Dawn Daniels, or California Bear Branch Manager Blanca Ibarra, at 800-954-2327, extension 3131.

A memorial service for Ugo (Wake Keeping and Celebration of Life) will be held on Saturday, July 3, at 6 p.m. at the St. Bernard Catholic Church Hall, 9647 E. Beach Street, Bellflower, 90706.
 

Ugo Anakwenze (seated) at Caltrans District 7 2008 Diversity and Disability Day activities.  Anakwenze volunteered his time to celebrate his culture and display his native Igboland dress, along with co-workers representing the African Delegation.