Seventeen years ago when the first Institute scientists arrived at what is now Cowan Campus, Orlando Montoya was here. And he’s been here ever since.

“I tell people I came with the house,” he laughs.

Orlando makes possible the Institute’s constant hum of activity by keeping the lights on, keeping the boiler running, and performing (with a smile) myriad other activities critical to SFI’s smooth operation. He started working on the property in 1969, when it was owned by the family of Gen. Patrick Hurley, the former U.S. Secretary of War and New Mexico candidate for U.S. Senate.

Though he works half time, Orlando handles about 200 work requests per year. He is the expert on any repair, from plastering walls
to unclogging sinks, and is on call for snow removal and maintenance emergencies.

Ronda K. Butler-Villa, SFI’s Director of Publications, Facilities, and Personnel, says he possesses the rare combination of general know-how and an intimate knowledge of the property and its history, as well as SFI’s culture and people.

The property has been more than a workplace for Orlando; he and his wife lived in the gatehouse at the bottom of the drive for 10 years and raised two of their three children there. In heavy snow the driveway became a sled run, where his son and daughter spent hours hurtling down the hill on inner tubes.

In his spare time Orlando enjoys restoring vintage cars. His current projects include a 1951 Ford Custom Victoria and a 1946 Ford pickup truck, which is often seen and appreciated around SFI.