AD Bruce Religion Center
Saturday, January 21, 2012
Dr. Carlos Monsanto, Associate Professor of Spanish, Department of Hispanic Studies (April 16, 1935 – December 19, 2011)
Dr. Monsanto taught at the University of Houston for more than 40 years. His area of specialty was Latin American literature with particular interest in Spanish-American theater, colonial literature, and the late nineteenth-century modernist movement. For many years, he taught the humanities core course in Latin American Culture and Civilization. During the 1990’s, he organized and directed on campus a Latin-American Folk Music and Dance Festival. The proceeds from the Festival were used to fund the Honors College endowed Monsanto Family Scholarship in memory of his son, Arturo, and his daughter, Rita, who preceded him in death. He was intensely interested in study abroad programs and led numerous departmental programs to Mexico, Guatemala, and Spain.
Dr. Monsanto had a strong interest in social issues and community concerns. He and his students actively participated in funding raising drives to aid the victims of natural disasters in Mexico and Central America. He published a weekly column of social commentary on Hispanic-related current issues in the Houston based Spanish-language newspaper La Semana. In his advanced Spanish oral communication class, he offered his students the extra-credit option of engaging in a social service project related to the Spanish-speaking community of Houston. For a number of years, he was an honorary consul in Houston for his country of origin, Guatemala
Dr. Monsanto was a talented musician and vocalist. He had a wonderful operatic quality voice. He played piano, keyboard and the marimba, an instrument for which he was a recognized expert. He played many marimba concerts in Houston, some in duet with his daughter, Rita, who was also a skilled marimba musician. For many years, Dr. Monsanto sang and played piano and keyboard in different restaurant venues in Houston.
Dr. Monsanto took a deep personal interest in his students with whom he frequently maintained on-going contact far beyond graduation. He spent many long hours in his office seeing and assisting students individually. Without sacrificing his strict academic standards, he had a wonderful sense of humor, which he amply demonstrated in class. Many of his former students have very found memories of him. A consummate teacher to the end, he finished grading exams and turned in his final set of grades barely 24 hours before his death.
The Department, the College, and the University community express our deep and sincere condolences to his wife, Bonnie, his son, Daniel, and his grandchildren and great grandchildren. May the delight in his eyes, the exuberance and kindness of his spirit and his beautiful, rich voice long be remembered.
Dr. Dennis Parle