Ruben G. Montalbo

October 16, 1952August 23, 2013
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Ruben G. Montalbo, 60, of Tempe, passed away on August 23, 2013 and is in the arms of our loving Lord and Savior. He is survived by his beloved wife and soul mate of 39 years, Anna, and his children Ruben and Reina. Ruben deeply loved his wife and children.

A citizen of Tempe for over 30 years, Ruben retired from the Tempe Elementary District in 2009 after serving with dedication as a second-grade teacher at Holdeman Elementary School.

Ruben touched many lives as a husband, father, son, brother, teacher, colleague, friend and member of the community. He will be genuinely missed by all.

A memorial mass will be held in Ruben’s honor at St. Mary’s Basilica in Phoenix on Friday, September 6 at 10:00 a.m.; a reception will follow immediately in the parish hall. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St. Mary’s Food Bank, or canned and packaged goods may be brought to the service. Ruben believed that children and families should never go hungry, and he never missed an opportunity to donate to families in need.


Ruben was born in Nixon, Texas on October 16, 1952 to Jose and Herminia Montalbo. He lived on a small ranch in Texas until he was three and the family moved to Arizona. Ruben means “first born son” and he took responsibility of being the oldest brother in the family very seriously. The family first lived on a ranch in Maricopa, Arizona and he always remembered his time on the ranch, feeding chickens and getting chased by the barnyard rooster with his brother, Oscar…and running through the fields of corn and cotton. His family traveled throughout the southwest and Ruben worked in the fields, picking corn, cotton, and other crops until they settled in South Phoenix where Ruben went to school with his other brothers and sisters. He loved playing baseball and was a pitcher on his school and local league teams. He loved playing baseball and watching Suns basketball!

Ruben’s first job was as a dishwasher at a local family Mexican restaurant in South Phoenix. He worked there when he was 15 until he graduated from South Mountain High School in Phoenix, Arizona. He had a really great reason for staying employed there, because besides drawing a regular weekly salary, the couple had a daughter, Anna, who he had met at a local school carnival. Ruben knew Anna’s brother, Carlos, from the restaurant and when he met Anna at the school carnival, he told Carlos that he was going to marry his sister, Anna. Anna was 13 at the time she met Ruben and he was her first and only sweetheart.

Ruben and Anna dated throughout high school. They attended football games, all of Anna’s high school activities and dances, and went out regularly with friends; so much so that people thought Ruben attended St. Mary’s High School. Ruben and Anna married, true soul mates for their entire lives, at the ages of 19 and 21 in 1973. Ruben went to work at a local bakery, Sunbeam Bread Company in 1971. He worked there and attended Phoenix College because he wanted to become a teacher. Ruben also supported Anna while she worked on her college degree in teaching at Arizona State University. Ruben and Anna bought a house on a city golf course because of Ruben’s love of the game of golf and he regularly played golf with his friends, and he really liked playing with his brother, Joe. Ruben worked at the bakery for 24 years, and during that time his son, Ruben, was born in 1988. The bakery closed due to financial hardship in 1994, but that gave Ruben the opportunity to pursue the completion of his teaching degree and have more time with his family.

He went to work for Roosevelt School District as an Instructional Aide, and during that time his daughter, Reina, was born in 1996. Ruben completed his Bachelors of Science degree in 1998 with a major in Education from Ottawa University. Ruben finally fulfilled his dream of becoming a teacher at the age of 43, and with a wisdom and enthusiasm for teaching, he began working for Tempe Elementary School District as a second grade teacher at Holdeman Elementary School. He loved teaching second graders. He was well-known for his story telling, using voices and characterizations that motivated his students. He worked with all populations of children and had a special love for students with special needs in his classroom. He welcomed special needs students unconditionally, and was recognized by the Tempe Council of Exceptional Children as an Outstanding Teacher with special needs populations in the regular classroom in 2008-2009. He believed with all of his heart that all students deserved a quality education and that equity in his classroom meant that all students were welcome and “pushed” to learn and achieve their potential. Ruben was well liked by his students, colleagues, and the community. He retired from teaching in 2009.

Ruben was always a positive, kind and loving, husband and father. He supported his kids in their schooling and regularly attended school and social events with his family. He encouraged Ruben and Reina to have goals and achieve their goals and he was proud of both of them. He loved life and was the kind of man who loved to be home with his wife and children. He loved sitting on the patio of his home, watching the beautiful wildlife on the course, hitting golf balls so his dogs would fetch and bring the golf balls back to him, and talking to the golfers when they came by the back yard fence. He loved dancing, and any kind of music, especially Mexican cumbias and mariachi music. He loved going out with Anna to listen to live music and dance. He had a fabulous sense of humor and could joke around and make others around him laugh and at ease. These last few years he became very involved with Reina’s Ballet Folklorico activities and regularly announced and introduced the dances during Reina’s performances. He also chauffeured Reina around to all her high school activities. He was always available when his son came home from San Francisco, and they would hit golf balls on the course and spend time talking on the patio.

Ruben loved life, his wife, and his children. He loved his mother and brothers and sisters and regularly communicated with them in his role as the “big brother” of the family. He loved his brothers-in-law and sisters in- law, and all of his nephews, nieces, and cousins and friends. Ruben was very generous with those who were less fortunate. He regularly contributed food at the local grocery store food drives, and always donated turkeys and gifts during the holidays to those in need. He quietly assisted people in need. One special gift Ruben had was of listening and talking to people, and he always had a welcome smile for strangers and friends alike. Ruben could sit and talk with a total stranger and know about their whole life because he just took the time to really listen and talk to them. Ruben was a kind and thoughtful person at home and with others and any person who met him….liked him. Ruben’s presence in his families’ lives will be missed not just because he was a brother, or husband, or dad, or brother-in-law, but because he was the kind of man who put his family before his own needs and sacrificed whatever was needed in order to protect and take care of his family. There are no words that adequately express his loss, but he spent his life meaningfully and created a life for his family that was peaceful and tranquil and full of laughter and happiness. All those who loved and knew him were blessed to have known him whether for a short time, or for their whole lives.


  • Catholic Memorial Mass Friday, September 6, 2013

Ruben G. Montalbo

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Tara Mulligan

September 12, 2013

My heart goes out to Ruben's family and friends.

Friends of Rio Vista grade sch

September 9, 2013

Our condolences to the fam. of Ruben, we went to grade school with him, he has always been a friendly person to everyone willing to do for others, reading all of the obituaries, you can see he remained the same, may his fam. find peace in their hearts with all these wonderful messages. He will be missed by manys.

Christine Trujillo

September 6, 2013

Ruben has had a wonderful impact on so many second graders. I worked with Ruben at Holdeman School. As the assistant principal, I would stand in his classroom and see the joy and passion he was passing to his students. He made a difference for our children. It was an honor to work with him and a privilage to be in his classroom.

Oona Mada

September 6, 2013

You will be greatly missed. Thank you so much for acts of your kindness, generosity, and support of the Marcos de Niza High School Orchestra. We have been so blessed to have met you and your beautiful family. Please keep up the good work from Heaven.
All our love and blessings.

The Mada Family

Rebecca Butner

September 6, 2013

Peace Be With You Anna And
Your Children.

Teary Byro

September 6, 2013

Ruben, thank you for sharing your thoughts with me about teaching. You touched many lives on earth but the Lord needed a great teacher in Heaven. My condolences Montalbo family, sending you many prayers and grateful to have met Ruben.

Ballet Folklorico Amistad

September 6, 2013

Ballet Folklorico Amistad will truly miss one of the greatest ballet dads! Thank you for your support of our group from day one. Thank you for supporting your lovely Reina all the years she has been with us. The dynamics in our group will not be the same with out you. Thank you for being our "DJ DAD" at so many of our shows! Your are a kind and giving generous friend. You are missed.
With love and gratitude from your BF Amistad family!

Kristina Lewis

September 6, 2013

I never saw Ruben with out a smile on his face in the entire time that I have known him. Most dads can only hope to be as loving, supportive and giving as he. I always admired that about him. His daughter Reina is a member of my dance group and we appointed him the "DJ Dad" for many many performances. He was always entertaining, social and funny. Ruben you are a good man and going to be missed so much by many. I know with all my heart you went straight to heaven and are sitting right next to Jesus. Anyone who knows me, knows I don't like goodbyes, so for now Ruben I will just say SEE YA LATER!! Love Kristina Lewis & kids

Diana Brassey Tibben

September 5, 2013

I had the great privilege of working with Ruben at Holdeman my first three years of teaching. He was an inspiration to all of us. He stood by your side, made you laugh and smile. I am sadden by this news and my heart breaks for you and your family. May knowing that Ruben touched so many lives bring you peace and comfort. May he rest in Peace.

Art Velarde

September 5, 2013

Ruben was my first co-teacher in Dual Language at Holdeman and he taught me how to rotate the club to hit a golf ball. He was always a quality person and a great friend. My condolences to the family. See you in heaven, my friend.