Robert Montemayor dies at 62, helped Times win Pulitzer with series on Latino community

Robert Montemayor, who was on the team of Times journalists who shared the 1984 Pulitzer Prize gold medal for meritorious public service for the series “Southern California’s Latino Community," has died in a Lubbock, Texas hospital. He was 62.

The cause of his Oct. 21 death was cancer, said his friend, Jesus Rangel.

The series, which ran over a three-week period during the summer of 1983, “blended autobiographical accounts and other forms of personalized reporting with in-depth analysis of the problems, achievements and changing nature of the Latino community,” the Pulitzer board noted in awarding the prize shared by 17 reporters, editors and photographers.

Montemayor, a reporter on the project, focused on the difficult situation of students, many of whom, he wrote, “have traditionally been neglected and often are regarded by teachers as uncaring failures.”

He was born Jan. 31, 1953, in Tahoka, Texas, and got his bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1975 from Texas Tech University. After stints at the Jersey City Journal and Dallas Times Herald, he came to The Times in 1978, at first with the San Diego edition where he reported on U.S.-Mexico border issues.

After leaving The Times, Montemayor earned a master's in business administration degree at UCLA. In 1986, he joined the Wall Street Journal as its circulation manager for Latin America and the Caribbean, and held other positions there. He want on to work for McGraw-Hill, becoming a corporate senior vice president, overseeing consumer marketing and other matters for more than 20 publications.

Montemayor also wrote the 2004 book “Right Before Our Eyes: Latinos Past, Present & Future,” examining the state of economic, political and social matters for the community. He urged its leaders to be more forthright.

“I think we’ve been quiet and respectful waiting for people to come to us, rather than us going to them,” he told the Arizona Republic in 2004. “We need to be a little more aggressive. It’s not in our character, in our culture, to be loud and boisterous, and I think that’s hurt us.”

He is survived by a brother, Ricky.

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