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Robert Montez, second row, third from right, with the Belmont Village team at the Del Mar 5k Mud-Run this September. He finished sixth among his Village teammates. Photo by Courtesy photo
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Military veteran still finds reason to serve

ENCINITAS — At 71 years old, longtime staff member at Belmont Village Cardiff-by-the-Sea Robert Montez, is truly leading by example, living his life with purpose, and showing no signs of slowing down.

“At any age and in any condition,” Montez said. “One should not lose a sense of value.”

As a husband, father, grandfather, military veteran, 30-year career with Coca-Cola, , how much suffering Montez has endured, and how many wondrous things he has witnessed.

“My goal in life is to fulfill my soul,” Montez said, “and I find working to be quite beneficial.”

Montez joined the U.S. Air Force in July of 1963 and served four years in the intelligence service.

“I spent six months learning skills and then was stationed to seven different countries from the Far East to the Middle East,” Montez said. “Unfortunately, the Vietnam War was in progress — enough said.”

Through the years Montez has enjoyed learning many new things.  He remains an avid reader, has learned to sail, experienced off-road adventures, and, of course, thoroughly enjoyed having and raising his three daughters a son. Montez is now a grandfather to eight grandchildren.

“I don’t think of my age as a limitation. I accept it for what it is,” Montez said. “Of course there are some things I can’t do as well as in my youth, but I still do them as best I can.”

The work setting of Belmont Village, which provides service and support for independent living, assisted living, and Alzheimer’s residents, is where Montez now finds himself in and draws strength from.

“It has been extraordinarily rewarding,” Montez said. “Associating with the Greatest Generation has allowed me to develop terrific friendships and periodically great sorrow. At Belmont Village we are relationship workers.”

Montez was originally hired as a weekend employee but soon found himself agreeing to work more days and 6-and-a-half years later he still works there, four days a week.  “My wonderful wife and children fulfill me to the brim,” Montez said. “My time at Belmont Village fills my need for some kind of self worth.”

Montez fulfills his days performing a variety of jobs. He’s a driver, does stand-up comedy, teaches Spanish, hosts a monthly dinner, and remains a confidant to both staff and residents alike.

“Robert is at an age where he’s able to identify with some of the issues our residents face,” said Sadie Harness, the Village’s executive director.  “He’s a role model for servant leadership for the staff, his calm demeanor and vast array of experience makes him a wise man, upon whom many rely on. He’s non-judgmental and shares his unique perspective with us so we can see one another more objectively in view of any problem. We are lucky to have him.”

A few months ago Belmont Village sponsored a team of 20 at the Del Mar Mud Run 5k. Montez came in sixth among the Belmont participants. “I train on my own,” Montez said. “I jog/run a half-mile every other morning, including 15 pull-ups and stretching. During the mud run it dawned on me that it was way too enjoyable in that I was being a young child again playing and jumping in the mud.”

“My advice to the young, is to set a goal and plan the goal,” Montez said. “Without the plan the goal is just a wish.”