By Ivan Cazares
Instructional Assistant John Monge died of organ failure on May 17 after spending months in and out of hospitals due to problems with his liver and kidneys. Monge dedicated 20 years of his life to the Photography Department.
“He was dedicated to his job and the department. His work here was a reflection of his lifelong love of photography and education,” photography instructor Mike Tsai said.
Monge is survived by his sons Michael and Matthew, and wife Patricia. “He was very passionate about our students and very passionate about his sons,” Photography Department chair Robert Aaron Lyle said.
Lyle said Monge spent more time on campus than anyone in the department, but made sure he made time to see his youngest son Matthew play baseball. “He would always talk about his games,” Lyle said.
Lyle said Monge would always express pride in Michael’s scholarly achievements.
He also said that he always joked about how lucky he was to have met his wife.
Monge was a member of the East Los Angeles College community for about 30 years.
He was a student in the Photography Department in the 80s and was a Campus News staff member for a year.
“He was a very sweet person. He was one of our most dependable photographers when he was on staff,” Campus News adviser Jean Stapleton said.
Monge also helped train Campus News staff members when it made the transition from film photography to digital.
Monge earned his associates degree in photography and taught some classes at ELAC.
“He always told everyone to keep on pushing and working on their craft. He would tell me not to worry about intangibles,” ELAC student Michael Gomez said.
Gomez described Monge as a down-to-earth person that liked to joke around. He said he was an uplifting and encouraging mentor.
Lyle said Monge would go above and beyond what was required of him.
Monge managed to help the Photography Department’s staff and the hundreds of students who took photography classes, while continuing to work on his one craft, Lyle said.
“He was the kind of person that could predict what the department needed, and acted on it before anyone told him anything,” Lyle said. He added that Monge was both a talented technician and photographer.
Lyle said Monge understood all of the chemicals and equipment needed to keep the photography labs running effectively.
Filling Monge’s shoes is proving to be a challenge, Lyle added, even while dividing the workload.
The Photography Department has a donations can in the E7 basement to help Monge’s family with funeral expenses.