Heroic survivor of 1971 San Quentin State Prison escape attempt dies

Urbano Benito “Rubi” Rubiaco Jr., who was widely known for his heroism during the infamous 1971 attempted escape from San Quentin State Prison, has passed away. He was 66.

Mr. Rubiaco, who held many posts with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, died Jan. 2 in his home in Novato, Calif.

“He was a hero in one of our most tragic events,” said Terri McDonald, CDCR Undersecretary of Operations. “The CDCR family extends its deepest condolences to Mr. Rubiaco’s family.”

Mr. Rubiaco was a correctional officer, hero and victim of the Aug. 21, 1971, San Quentin Adjustment Center hostage incident.

This was an armed escape attempt by inmate George Jackson as part of a national revolutionary movement in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s.

This incident resulted in one sergeant and two officers being murdered, and one sergeant and two officers being seriously injured.

Officer Rubiaco had his throat cut by the inmate hostage takers and was left for dead. He required 108 stitches to his throat.

As an example of Officer Rubiaco’s dedication to duty, tenacity and courage, that same evening at 10 p.m., as the interview by incident investigators was ending, Officer Rubiaco said: “I’ll try to get to work as soon as I can.”

Officer Rubiaco survived one of the most violent years in the history of national corrections.

The San Quentin tragedy was followed by the New York Attica State Prison riot/hostage incident on Sept. 9, 1971 in which 11 officers and staff were murdered.

Mr. Rubiaco retired from the California State Department of Corrections in 1986.  During his distinguished career, he served as a parole agent, correctional sergeant, jail liaison and correctional officer.

He also was a devoted son and loving husband, father and brother.

He was born Oct. 1, 1946, in Stockton, Calif., to Mary Pazin Rubiaco of Colorado and Urbano Benito Rubiaco of Luzon, Philippines.

While pursuing his career and raising a family, he worked continuously to be the best in his field, earning degrees in criminal justice, sociology and correctional science.

Before joining the Department of Corrections, Mr. Rubiaco served in the U.S. Coast Guard from 1964 to 1968. He was stationed at Sattahip, Thailand, and was a proud member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He was honorably discharged as an engineman second class.

During his retirement he devoted his time to his family, helping others and his passion for fishing.

Mr. Rubiaco is survived by his wife, Joyce Sapteiro Rubiaco of Novato; a daughter, Terri Loftin of Healdsburg, Calif.; two sons, Jim Loftin of Paradise Valley, Ariz., and Jerry Loftin of La Jolla, Calif.; two granddaughters, Trish Malaspina and Anna Marie Loftin; and five grandsons, Ray Malaspina, Joe Malaspina , Alex Loftin, Grant Loftin and Tucker Loftin.

A vigil is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 8, in Keaton’s Mortuary in Novato.  Funeral services are set for 10:30 a.m., Wednesday, Jan. 9, in Our Lady of Loretto Catholic Church in Novato, followed immediately by interment at Mount Olivet Cemetery in San Rafael, Calif.



9 Responses

  1. Patti Koehne Sunday, January 13, 2013 / 9:24 am

    I wish for peace and comfort for Rubi’s wife, Joyce, and all of the family and friends who knew and loved him. He always went the extra mile for us, his friends, and gave so much in personality. Truly a great guy, and one that will always be in our hearts, and memories. Good- bye great friend, and hope to reunite another time in heaven. Love Patti Koehne

  2. B. Caster Saturday, January 12, 2013 / 9:28 am

    May God Bless this Hero and watch over his family as he guards the Gates of heaven.
    Sincere Condolences to the family.

  3. s. stevenson Wednesday, January 9, 2013 / 10:15 pm

    Another example of walking the toughest beat in the state. My prayers to his family

  4. S. Clay Wednesday, January 9, 2013 / 3:25 pm

    He sounds like a man who demonstrated dedication at it’s best. I will remember his family in my prayers.

  5. G. Williams Wednesday, January 9, 2013 / 12:53 am

    May God bless your family and your soul.

  6. Marie Salum Wednesday, January 9, 2013 / 12:31 am

    My condolences to his family and prayers for him and his family.

  7. R. Green Tuesday, January 8, 2013 / 7:45 pm

    Prayers to your family at this time of sadness. May God be with you and your family. You are in my prayers.

  8. Tom Nielsen Tuesday, January 8, 2013 / 7:30 pm

    The peace of his presence may have passed but not the monument to his public sevice, Well done good and faithful servant. Well done.

  9. Maria Montes Tuesday, January 8, 2013 / 7:05 pm

    Prayers and condolences to his family at this time of sadness and need. May God bless them and him. He is now in heaven with God and will no longer have to suffer.

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