Joe Eugene

Well, let’s see...

My life has been quiet but not uneventful. After graduation I took the first job I could get, with JC Penney. That fizzled out in a couple of years and I got a job with the County of Santa Cruz in the welfare department. Ten years later I changed fields and became a mainframe programmer for the County. After Spanish, French, German, Japanese, Portuguese, etc., it was natural to go on to COBOL, BASIC, etc. A language is a language, right? I retired after 30 years of civil service.

Home life was more difficult than the office. My first “domestic partner,” Gary Rochholz, was the first person in Santa Cruz to be diagnosed with HIV/AIDS so we got to be pioneers in coping with the disease. I’m grateful for the help of two local AIDS support groups. Gary died in 1990 after we had been together 17 years. I soloed for a while, then met “Hubby2,” Doug Broyles. He was a correctional officer at Soledad when we met but was injured on the job and got a disability retirement. We enjoyed traveling together (Netherlands, Denmark, Berlin, Brussels, Martinique, Hawaii...). He finished his college degree and built a home business as a computer consultant. We parted ways in 2001 and I’ve mostly enjoyed being single since then. I’ve done more traveling with other companions (Cusco and the Peruvian Amazon out of Iquitos, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil) and gotten my Advanced Open Water scuba certification.

Since retirement, I occupy myself with volunteer work. I began with Triangle Speakers (, speaking on panels in schools about my life as a gay man. In 2008 I received a Queer Youth Leadership Award as an ally to gay youth for my work with Triangle Speakers. After joining the board of directors, we merged with The Diversity Center, Santa Cruz’s community center for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender communities. I am now a board member and active volunteer with the Diversity Center. One of our main goals since the merger has been to reach out to the predominantly latino community in the southern part of our county, to bridge the gaps and the language barriers that divide us. One way I use my ESL degree from Covell is in proofreading our newsletters and announcements, which are now bilingual.

I very much value what I learned at Covell. Speaking Spanish was a help at work sometimes but it has enriched my life outside of work too. My car radio is often tuned to a Spanish-language station and my Latin Music playlist is one of the largest on my iPhone. I enjoy surprising people with how much Spanish I know. And to this day, my descriptions of Covell College, with lectures, textbooks, term papers and exams all in Spanish, impress people. My tongue is rusty from lack of practice but my Covell experience is with me every day of my life.