Samuel Mendoza Montoya, age 89, died peacefully in his sleep in the presence of his family on January 12, 2013. He was born on November 3, 1923 in Las Cruces, N.M. He and his family moved to the Coachella Valley in 1923. They settled in the Palm Desert area in 1928. At that time it was known as Palm Village. He attended Coachella Valley High School, class of 1942, where he participated in track and baseball. After high school he served overseas in the Asiatic-Pacific Theatre as a combat infantry scout. He was wounded in action and received the Purple Heart Medal. Other Army decorations include Asiatic-Pacific Ribbon with two Bronze Stars, Philippine Liberation Ribbon with one Bronze Star, and the Combat Infantry Badge. Upon Honorable Discharge from the U S Army he returned to Palm Desert, married Lucy Salas, they were happily married for 69 years. He worked for two prominent date rancher F. C. Nash and William Cook for 16 years. He then started his own business as a C-27 landscape contractor. He formed and ran his own company, Palm Desert Landscape from 1962 until his retirement in 1992. He was honored several times for his contributions to the city of Palm Desert and the community. He was cited as the father of little league baseball of Palm Desert, forming the cities first team, Palm Desert Texaco, in 1958. In 1967 he was recognized as one of the year's most outstanding citizens. In 1984 his name was inscribed on the Honored Citizens of Palm Desert, a Memorial to the men and women who have made long standing contributions to the cities development. He was very active in the community in several areas. He was a member of the volunteer Palm Desert Fire Department, Palm Desert Junior Chamber of Commerce, a Reserve officer for the Riverside Sheriff's Department, and a charter member of the Palm Desert Jaycees. He is survived by his beloved wife Lucy Montoya, daughter Dolores Jaynes, her husband Ed, son Arthur Montoya, his wife Carolyn, grandchildren Tianna Woods, Yvonne Montoya, Kevin Montoya, and his sister Sylvia Valenzuela. He was preceded in death by his son Sammy Montoya Jr. and his brother Albino Montoya. A Celebration of Life service will be held at Forest Lawn Mortuary in Indio, Calif. (Requa Ave) on Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 2:00 pm.
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Published in The Desert Sun on Jan. 18, 2013