Progressive Voice is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their organizations or ARLnow.com.
By: Niharika Chibber Joe
It was a proud week for Virginia when our Senator and former Governor Tim Kaine accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination for Vice President of the United States.
That same week was also one of shock and grief as we learned that Joe Montano, one of Senator Kaine’s key aides – and his staff representative in Arlington and across Northern Virginia – had passed away. Senator Kaine’s moving remarks at the Virginia delegation breakfast was a testament to the love that so many felt and feel for Joe.
I would like to put into my own words what the loss of Joe meant to so many people in this area – especially to Asian Americans:
Our dearest friend, Democratic Asian-Americans of Virginia (DAAV) co-founder, AAPI stalwart, community leader, Virginia Democrat, and all-round inspirational kuya Joe Montano was laid to rest in his beloved Norfolk, Virginia, on Sunday, August 7, 2016. He was 47 years old.
Hundreds of friends and colleagues from all walks of life joined the Montano family amidst crying, hugging, laughing, and even dancing and basketball to bid farewell to Joe. Only Joe, say his friends, could pack a church and a high school gym to capacity; shut down major streets; have his Senator and boss, Tim Kaine, deliver a heartfelt eulogy for him; and have everyone in tears and laughter at the same time.
The outpouring of camaraderie, love, and support from Washington, D.C., through Northern Virginia, and all the way down to Norfolk and Virginia Beach in the wake of Joe’s passing has been nothing short of remarkable. But then, Joe was a truly remarkable person.
He was the guy whose laugh long preceded his entrance into a room. He was always the first to jump up to serve his community and the first to lend a hand. He brought people together. He was a uniting presence in the way he lived. And in death, he has united a community of friends and family from each facet of his wonderfully spirited, indefatigable life.
A proud Filipino American, Joe was passionate about social justice issues. He most recently served as Northern Virginia Regional Director of Constituent Services for Senator Kaine.
In a statement released shortly after Joe’s death, Senator Kaine said, “Joe was an outstanding representative of this office, enthusiastic servant of the people of Northern Virginia, and admired colleague by all who worked with him. We will remember him by his positive energy, tireless work ethic, and infectious smile.”
Joe’s best friend Marlan Maralit spoke of him with passion. “Joe Montano’s was a purpose driven life where his actions were explicit and not far from his vision for the world — a world where he was quickly becoming an emerging voice for communities fighting for a seat at the table.”
At DAAV, Joe was our go-to guy. He was our sounding board, our adviser, our galvanizer, our rock. He was selfless and dedicated and he immediately put everyone at ease. He was the commanding presence in a room full of people, yet, he was quietly comfortable chatting with high school students.
He fired up volunteers the same way he fired up elected officials — like no other — with a passionate, loudly delivered call to action. He mentored and inspired the next generation, led by example, and encouraged them to give back to their communities. And he did it all with kindness and compassion – with that bright Joe Montano grin, never uttering a negative word.
With Joe’s passing, the Democratic Asian Americans of Virginia have not only lost our star community organizer and activist — we have lost our best friend. Joe is irreplaceable. We miss him dearly. Yet in his honor DAAV members look forward to building on his decades of hard work to elect Democrats at every level across the Commonwealth of Virginia and at the national level.
Maraming Salamat, Joe Montano! Thank you for your tireless service. Rest in peace, dear friend. Your spirit will live on with us. We will not let you down! #LiveLikeJoe #BeLikeJoe
Niharika Chibber Joe is a South Arlington resident. In 2014-15, she served as Secretary of the Democratic Asian Americans of Virginia.
Good Tuesday evening, Arlington. Let’s take a look back at today’s stories and a look forward to tomorrow’s event calendar. 🕗 News recap The following articles were published earlier today…
New Addison Heights Home by National Landing Attractions!
A 19-year-old man and a teen boy are facing charges after two girls overdosed at Wakefield High School last week. Police and medics responded to the school just before 11:45…
Join Arlington County Initiative to Rethink Energy (AIRE) and a group of electric vehicle (EV) experts as they explain how to install home chargers, discuss commercial charging infrastructure, project the…
The Arlington Sports Hall of Fame is extremely pleased to announce that our 2023 Annual Induction Dinner, again in partnership with the Better Sports Club of Arlington, will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 11, at the Knights of Columbus, located at 5115 Little Falls Road, Arlington, Va.
Our dinner will pay tribute to all the honored members of the Hall of Fame and will induct the following six new Class of 2023 inductees, joining the 62 athletes, coaches and contributors who have been inducted into ASHOF since its founding in 1958:
Noel Deskins (Yorktown Class of ’79): Track & Field record-holder & Athlete of the Year at YHS and JMU
Eric Metcalf (O’Connell Class of ’85): Star NFL running back, football and track & field record-holder and Hall of Famer at both O’Connell and the University of Texas
Opening night in Ballston, thanks to a partnership with Marymount University will feature renowned soprano Sharon Christman singing songs of Franz Schubert, Leonard Bernstein, Fanny Mendelssohn, Richard Strauss and some thrilling instrumental music.
But that’s not all! Get ready to