By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Migrant activist and educator succumbs

“Education has always been very important to me,” she said in the 2001 News-Register interview.

A first-generation American, Montemayor was born to a migrant family in Brownsville, Texas. She spent many years moving from place to place as a migrant worker, harvesting everything from beans to boysenberries in Oregon, Washington, California and Texas.

She and her husband, Jose, came to Yamhill County in 1967, living first on Grand Island, then in Eola Village between Amity and Dayton. In 1970, they settled in McMinnville with their nine children.

Montemayor, who had always dreamed of a college education, earned her GED, then started college at Linfield. A grant from the Valley Migrant League paid for her first two years.

In the 2001 interview, she said it was difficult to combine studying, raising her family and working. But, with her husband’s support, she preserved.

“To me, life is what you make of it,” she said. “I have to go out and do. Each of us is responsible for our own contribution to the world.”

After graduating from Linfield, she taught migrant kindergarten in Woodburn for 10 years. Then she joined the Amity School District, teaching Spanish, English as a Second Language and courses for older students.

She also taught in Yamhill County’s migrant summer school. And for many years, she tutored adults trying to master English.

Montemayor promoted education and humanitarian causes in the community, as well.

She belonged to the boards of numerous organizations, especially those that supported migrants and health care. She also served on committees at St. James Catholic Church.

She kept in touch with her children and friends.

“She loved people so much,” said son Elias Montemayor. “She cared for everyone.”

A rosary will be said at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 24, in the Chapel of Macy & Son Funeral Directors. Services will follow at 11 a.m. Friday, Jan. 25.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Yamhill Community Action Partnership, care of Macy & Son Funeral Directors, 135 N.E. Evans St., McMinnville, OR 97128.

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