Armando Montaño ’12, recent Grinnell alumnus and former editor and writer for the Scarlet & Black, died on June 30, 2012 in Mexico City. He was 22.
Armando, known affectionately as Mando, was a summer intern for the Associated Press in Mexico City. He was eager to be starting journalism school at the University of Barcelona in the fall. Mando’s death was unexpected and the exact cause is unknown. He was not on assignment at the time of his death.
Mando started writing for the S&B as a first year. He joined the editorial staff as a second year and served as News Editor for three semesters. In his last year, he stepped down to focus on writing. At Grinnell, Mando earned a reputation as an eager and level-headed journalist who cared about sharing the compelling stories of the people he knew.
Mando was an integral part of the S&B and a fixture in the Student Publications office, where he broke some of our biggest stories while keeping the entire staff in good spirits through his impressions, dances and endless smiles. As editor, he worked tirelessly not only to produce a high-quality news section, but also to help his reporters improve their journalism and interview skills. His blend of knowledge and kindness helped writers live up to his high standards.
As a colleague, Mando took care of his fellow editors. His almost-painful massages frequently calmed down stressed editors trying to lay out impossible pages. He was passionate during staff arguments, but never angry or condescending. He was our most trusted advisor on all things journalism, but he never held his experience above ours.
Mando was known across campus for his friendly smile. He was a Spanish major and a Latin American Studies concentrator and hoped to use his skills to become a multilingual journalist. He studied abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina in the fall of his junior year, where he was excited to have a story on gay marriage in Argentina published by the Associated Press.
Between semesters, Mando earned internships and accrued bylines in the Associated Press, the New York Times, and the Chronicle of Higher Education, among other newspapers. He was a Chipps Quinn Scholar, a program that supports young journalists of color.
Mando left a unique impression on the many journalists and sources he worked with. The Associated Press published a long obituary for Mando that ran in most major newspapers. Many journalists who knew him mourned his death publicly in newspapers, blogs, and TV news shows. “Armando Montaño” even trended on Twitter.
On Sunday, July 15, a memorial service was held for Mando near his home in Colorado Springs. Dozens of Grinnell students and alumni, joined by several professors and administrators, came to pay tribute alongside Mando’s family and other friends. The Scarlet & Black has set up a fund to further Mando’s legacy at Grinnell, and The New York Times Student Journalism Institute is creating a scholarship in his name.
An on-campus memorial for Mando will be held at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, September 30, 2012 in Herrick Chapel, followed by a reception in the Bucksbaum rotunda. Mando’s parents, Diane Alters ’71 and Mario Montaño, will attend.
We at The Scarlet & Black love and miss Mando very much. We extend our deepest condolences to Mando’s parents and to the rest of his family and friends.
The S&B wants to leave this page as a public space for stories and memories about Mando, as a celebration of his life, rather than a description of his death. We invite you to share his articles and your memories, videos, photographs and more. Please post comments or links here and email files (or other ideas) to firstname.lastname@example.org. We published in our first issue this fall in Mando’s memory.
Click here to read more about Mando’s career and his death.