Eliseo “Cheo” Montoya, 78, resident of Alcalde, NM, passed away peacefully surrounded by his loving family on September 26, 2023, following a lengthy illness. Cheo, as most people knew him, was born on June 11, 1945. He was the second of four children born to Alfredo and Jerry Montoya. He was born and lived most of his life in Alcalde. When he was two years old his parents moved to Portland, Oregon where his father found work after he had returned from serving in World War II. He attended school in Portland until the 4th grade. His parents, older sister and he then moved back to Alcalde, where he was then enrolled at San Juan Pueblo Parochial School. After completing 8th grade, he attended Espanola Public Schools for a short time. As a sophomore he was then enrolled at St. Catherine’s Catholic School. Even though it was a school for Native Americans only, he was lucky to be accepted. During summers and after having attended St. Catherine’s School, Cheo worked with his father doing construction work, building schools and hospitals on various Indian Reservations. When he turned 18 years old, he was drafted into the military, and started basic training in Louisiana. During the first break he had from basic training he returned home and married the love of his life. Cheo had dated Irene Valerio prior to being drafted into the Army, so on the first break from military training he and Irene got married. Together they would have a marriage that lasted 59 years. Together they raised 5 children and had 11 grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.
Cheo served in Korea during his time in the military. After returning from the service Cheo worked with his father-in-law doing various construction jobs. In 1971 he started working for Los Alamos County, where he worked for twenty-five years until his retirement. He enjoyed his retirement for a couple of years until his first grandson convinced him to drive the bus for the pre-school that he was attending. He drove the bus for four years.
Most of his retirement years he spent attending activities with all his grandchildren. If he attended one of his grandchild’s activities, he made sure to attend all his grandchildren’s activities so there were no hard feelings.
Cheo had many hobbies of his own that occupied much of his time. He loved to go fishing, especially when one of his grandchildren, family or friends would accompany him. He also spent a lot of time hunting with family and friends, but his biggest passion was his horses. He started buying racehorses since the Santa Fe Downs opened in the late 1960’s. Horse racing became a family affair. Even on his death bed he was keeping track of four horses that he owned, that are currently racing in Albuquerque.
He is preceded in death by his parents Alfredo and Jerry Montoya, sister Patricia LaBadie, grandson Eliseo R. Salazar, father- and mother-in-law Arsenio and Eufelia Fernandez, sisters-in-law Josie Kraus and Brenda Fernandez, and niece Margaretta Valdez.
He is survived by his wife Irene Montoya, children Abe, Valerie, Maria, Anthony Montoya (Renee), Helena Salazar (Bobby). Grandchildren Toni Jay Dixon-Montoya, Esperanza Salazar, Katelyn Lewis, Adam, Andrew, Adrianna, Aiden Montoya, Alexander Gurule Montoya, Christopher and Miranda Salazar. Great Granddaughter Kataleah Lewis. Brothers Alfredo Montoya (Mae), Gerald Montoya (Judy). In-laws Lorraine Valdez (Pedro), Clara Flores (Ernie), Tony Valerio (MaryLou), Maria Armijo, Joseph Gutierrez and Bernadette Cordova and many nieces, nephews, and many other family members.
A public visitation will begin on Monday October 2, 2023, at 5:00 pm in the Sangre de Cristo Chapel of DeVargas Funeral Home, and a rosary to follow at 6:00 pm. A mass of Christian burial will take place on October 3, 2023, at 10:30 am at the San Juan Bautista Catholic Church in Ohkay Owingeh, a burial with military honors to follow at the Alcalde Cemetery in Alcalde, NM.
Pallbearers Christopher Salazar, Adam Montoya, Andrew Montoya, Mario Montoya, Gerald Montoya Jr., Bobby Salazar and Willie Dupree.
Honorary pallbearers Frank Martinez, Leo Martinez, Dennis Salazar, Ben Chacon, Bob Ferrell, Lucas Montoya, Tony Valerio and God daughter Amanda Montoya.
The family would like to thank Presbyterian Hospice, especially Charles “ChaCha” and LillyAnn, for their professional care of Cheo, and all family members who have been by his side especially his Brothers Alfredo and wife Mae, Gerald and wife Judy, and in-laws Lorraine, Maria and Bernadette. Father Nathan Lopez for his last rites, and all prayers, phone calls and visits from family and friends.