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Zeke Montes, Hispanic Print Pioneer, Dies at Age 64

Posted: Feb 04, 2013

Ezequiel "Zeke" Montes Jr., president of the National Association of Hispanic Publications (NAHP), and Tele Guia publisher and CEO, passed away on Tuesday, Jan. 29, from complications due to pneumonia. He was surrounded by his family at the time of his death. He was 64 and is survived by his wife, Rosalinda, and his children, Patricia, Christina, Edward and Esteban, as well as many grandchildren.

"While others have devoted meaningful time to the NAHP and the development of Hispanic Print -- Zeke devoted his life," wrote Kirk Whisler, founder of the NAHP and president of the Latino Print Network. "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."

The Tele Guia is the holding company for three successful Spanish-language publications in the greater Chicago area: Tele Guia de Chicago, El Imparcial Newspaper, and Guia Telefonica.

Montes started the Tele Guia in 1985, with a Spanish-language television guide and entertainment magazine. The business grew to nine magazines covering a five-county area, according to an NAHP memorial post. In 1999, he acquired his second publication, El Imparcial, a Spanish-language newspaper based in Cicero and Berwyn, Ill., to "ensure that the Hispanic community was and continues to be well-informed about their schools and government." In 2006, Montes launched Guia Telefonica, a Spanish-language phone directory.

"I admire my father very much because he really tries to help the Hispanic community. He brings the Latino Book and Family Festival to Cicero, to promote literacy and education and makes people aware of government programs that are surrounding them that can help them," Montes' daughter, Christina, said in a September 2009 YouTube video. "That's why I admire him."

The Chicago Latino Book and Family Festival is now in its 13th year and attracts about 25,000.

"(Zeke) was among the first Latinos to welcome USHLI (United States Hispanic Leadership Institute) to Chicago 30 years ago," wrote USHLI President Juan Andrade in a newsletter. "From the first time we met, and every time thereafter, he greeted me with that same cheerful smile for which he was well known. He greeted me like a brother and a colleague who was also engaged in the struggle to empower and improve his community. That's just the way he was."

Manny Ruiz, publisher of the Hispanic PR Blog and founder of the Hispanicize event, also worked closely with Montes, who took him "under his wing" when he was just starting out in Hispanic media.

"Every chance he had, Zeke would go out of his way to introduce me to brands, publishers and people," Ruiz said. "From the first moment, he always treated me as family, and for that I am eternally grateful."

Montes served on the board of directors for organizations such as the Norwegian American Hospital, the Cicero Chamber of Commerce, the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility, the National Hispanic Media Council and the National Hispanic Leadership Council, according to the NAHP.

At the time of his death, he was serving as NAHP president – a leadership role he held six times. The nonprofit recently celebrated its 30th anniversary at the 2012 NAHP Annual Convention and Business Expo, where Montes said: "We are a family of publishers that believe in the principles of journalism, business opportunity and giving back to the community."

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