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MONTOYA, GREGORIO

Gregorio Montoya (1917–1994).
State legislator Gregorio Montoya served in the House of the Fifty-ninth, Sixty-third, and Sixty-fourth Texas legislatures. Courtesy Legislative Reference Library of Texas and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

MONTOYA, GREGORIO (1917–1994). Gregorio (Greg) Montoya, Tejano legislator and teacher, the eldest of seven children of Esteban B. and Paulina Montoya, was born on January 23, 1917, in Corpus Christi, Texas. Montoya received a formal education and earned a B. A. degree from Texas A&M University and an M.A. from Texas A&I University (now Texas A&M University–Kingsville). He did graduate work at U.C.L.A. He became a public school teacher in Corpus Christi, where he taught foreign languages. During World War II he stopped teaching to join the United States Army in 1943. He served for more than two years, was discharged in September 1945, and returned to teaching before being elected to public office. 

Montoya was first elected, as a Democrat, to the House of the Fifty-ninth Texas Legislature and represented Hidalgo County. He was formally sworn in on November 21, 1964. During this term, his service included seats on the Claims and Accounts, Highways and Roads, and School Districts committees. He also served in the Sixty-third legislature in 1973 and the Sixty-fourth in 1975 and represented Hidalgo, Kenedy, Kleberg, and Willacy counties. During the Sixty-fourth legislature, Montoya was a part of one of the largest Tejano representations to date—sixteen seats in total—in both chambers of the legislature. 

During his time in the legislature, Montoya served on a number of committees, including the Agriculture and Livestock, Liquor Regulation, Transportation, and Natural Resources committees. He also sought to protect Mexican Americans in the Lower Rio Grande Valley and initiated an investigation into alleged discrimination committed by the Department of Public Safety in that region.  In his last years of public office, Montoya faced a scandal that revolved around the illegal use of state funds to pay private employees in his wife’s auto supply firm. In November 1976 he was found guilty and sentenced to three years of probation for theft of treasury warrants. He was also ordered to pay the court costs and the amount from the treasury used to pay the personal employees. Montoya was defeated for reelection in the primary election that year and dropped out of the political sphere after the end of his term in 1977.

Montoya was a member of the American Legion, League of United Latin American Citizens, Texas State Teachers Association, and National Education Association. He resided in Hidalgo County during most of his life. He was married three times. He first married Gracie Montoya, by whom he had one daughter named Anne Myrna. Then he married Elida Ybarra in 1979. After his divorce from Elida he married Elvia F. Castillo in 1981. Gregorio Montoya died in Hidalgo County, Texas, on January 29, 1994.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Del Rio News Herald, December 5, 1974. El Paso Herald-Post, May 29, 1974. Legislative Reference Library of Texas: Gregory Montoya (http://www.lrl.state.tx.us/legeLeaders/members/memberDisplay.cfm?memberID=648&searchparams=chamber=~city=~countyID=0~RcountyID=~district=~first=~gender=~last=montoya~leaderNote=~leg=~party=~roleDesc=~Committee=), accessed March 8, 2017. San Saba News & Star, November 18, 1976. John P. Schmal, “The Tejano Struggle for Representation,” The Hispanic Experience (http://www.houstonculture.org/hispanic/tejano1.html), accessed March 8, 2017.

Kyle E. Havron

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Handbook of Texas Online, Kyle E. Havron, "Montoya, Gregorio," accessed December 15, 2017, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fmont.

Uploaded on March 21, 2017. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.