Montemayor won a Pulitzer Prize as part of a team that profiled Latinos in Southern California for the Los Angeles Times.
Born on Jan. 31, 1953, in Tahoka, Montemayor graduated from Texas Tech University with a bachelor's degree in journalism in 1975. He began his professional career as a feature and news writer at the Dallas Times Herald.
Sally Post, senior director of communications for the Office of the Vice President for Research at Texas Tech, worked with Montemayor at the campus newspaper, then called The University Daily, in the early 1970s.
“Robert was one of the most dedicated and talented journalists I've ever known,” Post said. “He had a passion for journalism and telling stories that made a difference to society. Robert made a huge impact on our industry.”
Montemayor served as the student newspaper's editor from 1974 to 1975. Jeff Klotzman, an alumnus of the college and news anchor for Fox 34 in Lubbock, described Montemayor as an honest and ethical journalist, beginning with his time at The University Daily.
“On the masthead of The University Daily during Robert's editorship was this quote: ‘It's the business of this newspaper to raise constructive hell,'” Klotzman said. “He did, and he did it so well within the confines of journalism ethics, creativity and reliability all the years of his magnificent career.”
Montemayor joined the Los Angeles Times in 1978. During his time as a staff writer, he was part of a team that earned the 1984 Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service for a 21-part series of stories on Latinos in Southern California that was later published as a book.
Jerry Hudson, founding dean and now dean emeritus of the college, described Montemayor as “a great man and beloved patriarch” who was honored many times by his alma mater.
“Robert was more than just a journalist,” Hudson said. “He was a Pulitzer Prize winner and a dedicated professional who had a passion for making a difference in the lives of people through his reporting.”
Montemayor earned a master's degree in business administration from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1986. He worked in New York City as a media executive specializing in consumer retention and marketing with Dow Jones & Co., BPI Communications, Inc., The McGraw-Hill Companies and Business Week Magazine.
In addition to authoring the book “Right Before Our Eyes: Latinos Past, Present and Future,” Montemayor established a consulting company, served on the board of directors of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education in Berkeley, California, and worked as a journalism professor and director of the Latino Information Network at Rutgers University.
Montemayor was inducted into the College of Media & Communication's Hall of Fame in 2012, and a scholarship for recruiting incoming freshman students has been established in his name.