Zeke Montes NAHP Co-Founder
By Kirk Whisler
We lost a GREAT PERSON and AMAZING LEADER with the passing of Zeke Montes on January 29, 2013. Often great leaders are not very nice people. They sacrifice being nice or being liked to get things done. My compadre Zeke had the ability to be both a GREAT LEADER and an AMAZING PERSON.
Zeke Montes was the most giving person I’ve ever met. He was always the first to volunteer to help for anything – and the first to pick up a check. Everyone remembers him as such a positive, energetic, happy person. So full of joy. So committed to seeing the entire Latino community get treated with the respect that it deserves.
Zeke is legendary for his commitment to the National Association of Hispanic Publications (NAHP) – and no one will or could serve more terms as President than the six terms he served. He was elected as the second NAHP President in 1986 and served three terms early in the NAHP history when board members were elected to one year terms (1986-1989). His many accomplishments from this period include the NAHP joining HACR and other key national organizations, the NAHP Group Buy program grew, the start of what is today the José Martí Awards, the NAHP gave it’s first scholarships, and our first convention in Mexico.
From 1999 to 2003 he served another 2 terms during a major growth period for the NAHP. During this time the NAHP had one of it’s most memorable events when future President of Mexico Fox and Edward James Olmos were at the same lunch and both gave amazing speeches. We were all spellbound as to having witnessed history. During this time period the NAHP grow to it’s largest number of members and largest conventions.
He was in the final year of his final two year term (2011-2013) when we tragically lost him. While others have devoted meaningful time to the NAHP and the development of Hispanic Print – Zeke devoted his life. Right up to going to the hospital for the final time Zeke was concerned about keeping Hispanic Print and the NAHP growing and moving in the right direction.
Zeke was also active on other national boards like HACR,Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibilty. HACR is key to negotiating with Fortune 500 companies and the HACR board is composed of the leaders of the most important Latino organizations. His leadership there was critical to a number of important national issues effecting the Latino community.
Zeke had the rare quality of making everyonehe meet feel important – from waitresses and the readers of Tele Guía to corporate CEOs and Presidents, and he met at least 15 presidents of the United States, Mexico, or another Latin American country.
As soon as Zeke and I meet over the phone in 1982 I was impressed with the man – and instantly felt like I’d know him for years. When I went to Chicago shortly thereafter he had his entire family at the airport to meet me. Over the years Zeke and I traveled together to over 50 cities around the USA, Mexico and the Caribbean to talk about the many benefits and qualities of Hispanic Print. Zeke always provided the emotions and honesty that came from his years as a publisher. These trips were all work from the 8 in the morning till 10 or later at night. During these years we saw the circulation of Hispanic newspapers and local magazines grow from 3 million to 19 million – and Zeke was a very key part of the growth.
Zeke was a very successful publisher with publications like Tele Guía, GuíaTelfonica, and their various websites and newsletters; but I have to believe that he would have been even more successful if he hadn’t spent so much time trying to help those publications smaller than his also succeed. He wanted the tide to raise ALL the boats, was never happy if only a few were going to succeed. Zeke was truly a WE person, not a ME person.
In 1997 Edward James Olmos and I cofounded the Latino Book & Family Festivals with our first festival in Los Angeles. Zeke was, of course, there wanting to do a similar event in his beloved Chicago. Within 2 years Zeke had created the Chicago Latino Book & Family Festival. At the first Chicago festival in November 1999 at Sportman’s Park Eddie Olmos’ daughter had never seen snow before. It was begin snowing, much like to today and his daughter got so excited that she rushed out and was licking the snow of the bumper of Zeke’s car. Luckily we stopped her before her tongue stuck to Zeke’s bumper. With the 14 Chicago Festivals held since then over 300,000 people have attended these wonderful events.
I know how happy Zeke was to fulfill his promise to take my comadre Rose to Paris last year. He loved traveling with his beloved wife as well as with his children and grandchildren. Zeke was never happier, as all of you know, than when he was surrounded by family and friends. Zeke was also extremely happy that his children Patricia, Christina, and Steve are all now working& managingthe publications. It truly was his dream to have them carry on with the efforts he and Rose started nearly 30 years ago.
Eddie Escobedo, Sr. (1932-2010)
Longtime Las Vegan Eddie Escobedo guided Hispanics
By Eddie Escobedo, Jr.
Eddie Escobedo was, if nothing else, driven in everything he attempted, and that trait showed when a neighbor challenged him to a bowling match. The neighbor didn’t know that Escobedo had managed a bowling alley in El Paso, Texas.
“My dad beat him clean,” Eddie Escobedo Jr. said.
Next, the neighbor challenged Escobedo to a game of billiards. Escobedo beat him at that, too. “My dad was also a pool hustler,” the younger Escobedo said.
When the neighbor suggested a game of golf, Escobedo must have swallowed hard. He didn’t know the game and, sure enough, his neighbor got the better of him.
“So my dad practiced every day for two weeks to learn the game and then asked the neighbor for a rematch,” the younger Escobedo said. “Dad went out and cleaned his clock.”
That kind of drive was evident, too, in decidedly more important facets of Escobedo’s life — and he proved equally successful.
As a businessman, promoter, philanthropist, community activist and publisher of the Spanish-language El Mundo newspaper, Escobedo was instrumental in organizing and advocating on behalf of the Hispanic community.
“My dad said that only in America can you accomplish whatever you set your mind to do,” the younger Escobedo said. “And he did.”
Escobedo began organizing the Hispanic community when there were only about 60,000 residents in the Las Vegas Valley, creating a social and political infrastructure.
“The Hispanic population was scarce, and he was one of the pioneers who cleared many obstacles for the Hispanics who later arrived in Southern Nevada,” said Mariano Lemus Gas, the Mexican consul in Nevada. “He also was a political activist who strived to promote and encourage the Hispanic vote at the polls.”
Escobedo was born in Juarez, Mexico in 1932, crossed the border as a teenager and enlisted in the Air Force with the goal of earning U.S. citizenship.
His first — and last — assignments were at Nellis Air Force Base, where among other duties he packed parachutes for the Thunderbirds performance flying team. By night, he worked as a bar back at the Dunes.
Escobedo turned serious businessman: operating a Spanish-language movie theater, co-owning a Spanish-language radio station and investing in real estate, including developing Escobedo Professional Plaza.
He is best known, however, as publisher of El Mundo, which he founded in 1980 with the help of Sun founder and Publisher Hank Greenspun. Through his engaging and incisive columns, he became a strong voice for Hispanics and promoted cultural engagement between the Spanish- and non-Spanish speaking communities through such events as Cinco de Mayo celebrations.
Two years ago, a middle school was named for him, honoring his contributions to Southern Nevada.
“Eddie Escobedo lived the American dream. He never let go of his belief that through hard work and creativity, a person could succeed and help his family and friends,” said Brian Greenspun, publisher and editor of the Sun. “He has been a great friend to Las Vegas. His family, I am sure, will carry on his legacy, which is to make Las Vegas a place where families can thrive and prosper.”
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