ORTIZ DE MONTELLANO, Bernard Ramon Ph.D.
Dr. Bernard Ramon Ortiz de Montellano, age 78, passed away peacefully in the early morning hours of December 2, 2016 at the Querencia retirement community in Austin after a sudden diagnosis of liver cancer and a very rapid decline. He was born August 31, 1938 in Mexico City to Bernardo and Thelma (Lamb) Ortiz de Montellano.
Bernard had a lifelong passion for learning, rooted in four childhood years confined to bed after an accident, with reading and music as his primary escapes. He obtained a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin and successfully merged his hobby of studying Mesoamerican culture with his professional training. His scholarly work was in the field of medical anthropology with a focus on the health and nutrition practices of the Aztecs. He spent most of his career at Wayne State University in Detroit.
Bernard met his life partner of 50 years, Ana Mercedes (Torres) in San Francisco in 1965; they married in Ana’s hometown of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Their sons were born in San Antonio, Texas, and were raised in Pleasant Ridge, Michigan where the family moved in 1976. Bernard and Ana settled in Austin in 1998 after choosing early retirement from the cold Michigan climate.
Bernard was a bright light with a warm heart and easy laugh who was admired and held in great affection by his family, friends, and students. He had an inquiring and curious mind and was a great believer in intellectual rigor and the scientific method. He was a fierce advocate for civil rights and social justice through his involvement with the ACLU and jail reform in 1970s Texas, and in volunteering for Texas Democrats since returning to Austin. As a promoter of culturally relevant science he was a founding member of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS). Once retired he volunteered for years at the Volunteer Health Clinic and was a founder of and frequent lecturer at Quest. He was a big fan of swing music and loved dancing with Ana.
Bernard’s memory will be cherished by his wife Ana; his sons Bernardo and Victor; his grandchildren F, Kiara, Z, and Bernardo; his daughters-in-law Daniela and Melissa; his brother Paul; his sister-in-law Kirby; and countless other relatives and friends. Bernard was preceded in death by his parents and his sister Ana Luisa.
The family thanks the Querencia Plaza staff for the kind and thoughtful care provided to Bernard during his brief stay.
In lieu of flowers please honor Bernard’s memory with a contribution to the ACLU.
(Obituary published in the Austin-American Statesman on December 4, 2016.)
(The banner image is the Aztec gods Oxomoco and Cipactonal throwing lots with grains of corn for divination, from the Codex Borbonicus as used on the cover of Bernard’s book, Aztec, Medicine, Health, and Nutrition.)