Herbert P. Montalbani, Sr.

 Herbert Montalbano - AthleteHerbert P. Montalbano, Sr., an innovative advertising maverick for 47 years, died June 13, 2017. He was a young 85. Born in the New Orleans French Quarter and a lifelong resident of Metairie for over 50 years. Mr. Montalbano was born on Nov. 7, 1931. He attended Holy Cross High School where he was outstanding in basketball and later graduated in 1949. He then attended Southwest Business College under the G.I Bill. And, at the late age of 78 he attended the University of New Orleans where he took Computer Science and Consumer Behavior courses. Mr. Montalbano served in the United States Coast Guard for four years, including two years of active duty from 1953-'55 during the Korean War aboard an air and rescue cutter (83-491). Mr. Montalbano and Cheryl (Brandt) Montalbano founded the advertising company, Herbert P. Montalbano Inc. Advertising and Public Relations, in June 1970. "He started it in the trunk of his car," said his wife of 43 years, Cheryl. Mr. Montalbano patterned his career after the late David Oglivy, a world-renowned copywriter. Montalbano served as advertising director of the Clarion Herald Catholic newspaper from 1968-70. Prior to his work at the Clarion Herald, Mr. Montalbano spent five years in professional sales and as the sales manager for Addressograph-Multigraph-Varityper Corp. He received five 100 Club awards which were presented during international ceremonies at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. During his lengthy tenure in advertising, public relations, producing ads, commercials, promotions and marketing, Montalbano worked with many national and local celebrities as well as sports stars such as Hall of Fame pitcher Dizzy Dean, Hall of Fame outfielder Joe DiMaggio, former Miami quarterback Bob Griese, former Saints quarterback Archie Manning and his sons Cooper and Peyton, former Tulane coach Mack Brown, former LSU coach Dale Brown, former Jazz coach Butch Van Breda Kolff and former Saints Rich Mauti, Del Williams, "Iron Head" Heyward and Ken Bordelon. His marketing, public relations and promotions also reached out to former Miss USA Ali Landry, Jerry Vale, Marguerite Piazza, Frankie Avalon, James Darren, Sonny Bono and Miss America runner up Erica Schwarz. He even did a commercial with a dog for Bohn Ford ("We cut prices to the bone") and a chicken for Advantage Ford (crossing a "Highway"). Among the many slogans originated by Montalbano were: "We cut the prices to the Bohn" and "Buckle up for a better deal" for Bohn Ford; "Support your hometown team" for Tulane football; "Home of the good guys" for Gentilly Dodge; "Hungry? Ground Pat'i" and "Your X wants you back at WTIX." He also created "Shucks, who can do better than that?" for Advantage Ford, "Your exterior decorators" for Pool and Patio Center, "Your affordable dream" for Hurwitz Mintz & Units, "Edison would have bought it here" for Lighting, Inc. and Dorignac's "The Best is Better." Montalbano also furnished the publicity for the St. Joseph's Italian American Marching Club Parade for more than 30 years. In 1973, he and the late Joe Gemelli and Vince Caruso began the popular Italian Italian Open golf tournament. In 2012 he produced television commercials with Gayle and Tom Benson to help feed the hungry and homeless for the St. Jude Community Center. He and his wife Cheryl were honored at a patron celebration before the Sounds of New Orleans Concert at the Mahalia Jackson Theater of the Performing Arts. He was described as a "marketing maven" by The Times-Picayune columnist Betty Guillaud. His wife said "he knew how to connect with his marketing skills. 'You don't sell peanuts at a funeral,' he once said. He knew how to relate to his clients and their audience." Montalbano was hired for the public relations for the Chevron Oil Scouts Association Convention, which featured Times Magazine world wide known Dr. Daniel Yergin, author of "The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power." He promoted the grand opening celebration for Judge Anthony Russo at the Piazza d'Italia which drew thousands of people. He also did public relations for a downtown parade for the New Orleans Pelicans to kickoff their baseball season that was played in the Superdome. The team was owned at that time by A. Ray Smith. Montalbano, in conjunction with the World's Fair, came up with the concept of a celebration to christen when 25 waiters poured champagne on the flagstone side walk in front of the Court of Two Sisters which was published in USA Today and local media. He handled the public relations for the placing of the corner stone by famed Opera singer the late Marguerite Piazza on the site of the old historic French Opera House at Toulouse and Bourbon Streets at a time when it was the Downtowner Motor Inn. He conceived the contest of "Who Shot J.R." for Gulf Federal Savings that got thousands of entries for the contest that was judged by WWL-TV's Angela Hill, Garland Robinette, the late Harry Lee, the late Hap Glaudi, the former District Attorney, Harry Connick, WSMB Radio greats Roy "Nut" Roberts, Jeff Hug, and former police chief James Parsons.He organized the promotion of a New Orleans Saints "dispute" of how many Saints games would be won. It pitted Saints star Steve Stonebreaker and popular broadcaster Buddy Diliberto. Stonebreaker won the bet and Buddy had to jump in the pool (clothes and all) at the Downtowner Motor Inn. His agency conceived and created the "Italian looking" shrimp for Pascal's Manale Restaurant, produced great ads and television commercials and promotions for Phillip Morris USA, Tulane University Athletics, Pool and Patio Center, Ground Pat'i, Commander's Palace, Andrea's, Court of Two Sisters, WTIX, WSMB, Massey's Sporting Goods, Hurwitz Mintz, BFL Furniture, Jefferson Guaranty Bank, Eureka Homestead, Interstate Federal, Italian American Marching Club, Gulf Federal, Stephen's Imports, Gentilly Dodge, Tonti Apartment Homes, Advantage Ford, Bohn Ford, Del Williams Motors, Stephen Imports and Chevrolet, Joe Conti Toyota, Bill Byrd Toyota, Robinson Brothers, Crown Dodge, Attorney Matt Greenbaum, Ed Womack, Maritime Law Center, Favret, Demarest, Russo & Lutkewitte Law Firm, Westlawn Memorial Park, Lamana-Panno-Fallo, Garden of Memories, Italian American Marching Club, Ava Maria Retreat Home, Immaculata High School and St. Louis Cathedral. He lectured to Tulane University students who were working on their MBA and other college students and gave an advertising presentation to students at the University of New Orleans in Consumer Behavior Studies. Today Herb, Jr., his son in Dallas, Texas, carries the Montalbano Group name in the advertising business throughout the United States. Among his charitable endeavors besides the Italian Open, Montalbano worked with the Ray of Hope Foundation in honor of former Holy Cross, Tulane and Saints linebacker Ray Hester who died at an early age of cancer. The Rich Mauti Golf Tournament was created to help raise funds for cancer research, the City of Hope and many other charitable endeavors. Athletically, in addition to playing basketball at Holy Cross, Mr. Montalbano competed in the CYO Tournament T.A.A.F and the Louisiana Senior Olympics, as well as the Commercial Athletic Association (CAA), the U.S. Coast Guard and the AAU. He was an inductee into the CAA Hall of Fame. And, at the age of 72, he scored 12 – 3 pointers and 8 – 2 pointers for an unbelievable total score of 52 points in the Jefferson Parish Recreational Over-40 League against men many decades younger than him. He received the Peoples Health Champion award in the Louisiana Superdome before a New Orleans Saints game on August 26, 2005 (three days prior to Hurricane Katrina) for his athletic and professional achievements. In 2016, he was honored by the Louisiana American Italian Sports Hall of Fame with the American Italian Veteran Award. He was an altar boy for five years at St. Mary Italian Church in the French Quarter. Montalbano visited Rome where he and his wife Cheryl had the opportunity to visit Pope John Paul II and they were photographed with the Pope. They also went with to Medjugorje with his brother, Rev. Frank Montalbano, OMI, where they met the children who saw the visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary and heard about the importance of penance and fasting. Montalbano was also inspired by his brother's love and dedication to the priesthood. Rev. Frank Montalbano, OMI, who is a scholar in Holy Scripture was appointed by the previous director and now Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond to teach at the New Orleans Notre Dame Seminary and was Associate Pastor of St. Louis Cathedral for 20 years. Mr. Montalbano is survived by his wife of 43 years, Cheryl, along with five children: Susan Martiny, Anne Blackwood, Herbert P. Montalbano, Jr., Janice Delaune, and Maria Field. His late son Frank Montalbano died in an auto accident at age 15. Mr. Montalbano had seven grandchildren: Corey, Whitney, Taylor, Jordan, Perry, Austin and Casey; and 7 great grandchildren. He is also survived by one sister, Theresa Thumfart, and two brothers, John Montalbano and Rev. Frank Montalbano, OMI. Mr. Montalbano was preceded in death by his parents, Mary (Calamari) Montalbano and Frank Montalbano, along with his sister Marie Louise Thomas."He was the love of my life," said Cheryl. "He always showed his love to other people, especially the less fortunate who needed it most. He helped the poor man make ends meet and helped the businessman. His motto was 'Create Advertising that sells.'" His final wishes were to have men undergo screenings for prostate cancer which Montalbano detected early and as a result maintained for many years a normal and healthy active life which included his love for basketball in his later years. His motto for himself and his family: "Do what's right and do your best for the love of God, family and country!" His wife Cheryl was also the love of his life, 1st Mate in fishing, his coach in basketball, mentor in business and always keeping him physically fit and mentally sharp and above all a loving husband with overwhelming love for God and family. His love for family was displayed by his sacrifices and always staying very close to his children. A Funeral Mass will be celebrated Tuesday, June 20 at noon at St. Clement of Rome Church, 4317 Richland Ave., Metairie. Visitation will begin at 10 a.m. Mass will be celebrated by Rev. Luis F. Rodriguez, pastor. Burial will take place at St. Louis No. 3 Cemetery on Esplanade Avenue, where his mother, father, son and sister are also buried. The tombstone a few years ago was etched in stone for Herb and his wife: "We thank God for our Love for each other," with entwined wedding rings below. Lake Lawn Metairie Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements. To view and sign the guest book, visit www.lakelawnmetairie.com.

Herbert Montalbano - Portrait
Published in TheNewOrleansAdvocate.com from June 15 to June 20, 2017