Savala, Otilia Gomez, 1937-
- Existence: 1937-
Otilia 'Tillie' Gomez Savala was born in 1937 in Davenport, Iowa, and grew up in the city's predominately Mexican neighborhood, known as Cook's Point. Her parents, Luz Salazar Gomez (1900-1956) and Peter Gomez (1900-1984) were both from central Mexico, and had emigrated to the U.S. separately in the 1910s. In Cook's Point, Luz Gomez managed the household, and Peter Gomez worked as a section hand on the Rock Island Railroad. They lived in a small, five-room house with no plumbing or electricity until 1951; that year, the City of Davenport razed the barrio, and the Gomez family moved to a new neighborhood. Tillie Gomez graduated from Davenport High School in 1956, and married Richard Savala, a sand mixer at the John Deere plant, in 1960; their son, Richard Savala II, was born in 1975. In an interview recorded for the Iowa Women's Archives, Savala reflects candidly on the discrimination she experienced in school due to her ethnicity and economic status and the lack of encouragement she received from teachers and counselors when she expressed her desire to pursue further education. Following graduation, she began working as a typist at the Rock Island Arsenal. Over the course of her twenty-seven year career at the Arsenal, she served as a stenographer, secretary, and administrative officer before becoming a procurement analyst, a position she held until her retirement in 1988. Following her retirement from the Rock Island Arsenal, Savala served the Davenport Community School District for seventeen years as a 1:1 special education aide and as a Spanish instructor. Regretting the lack of educational support she had received during her childhood, Savala has dedicated herself to furthering educational opportunities for others in her family and community. She has regularly volunteered at her granddaughter's elementary school and assisted in childhood reading comprehension programs.