On March 4th, don Gilberto Castillo Montiel, promoter of the arts and music, former Puerto Peñasco Mayor and founder of the local Chamber of Commerce, among his many other activities, passed away. Azucena Mazón of Rocky Point 360 recalls interviewing Castillo on numerous occasions, sitting down each time for what ended up being long talks though initially planned to take just a few minutes. – RockyPoint360
Upon arriving at the offices of don Gilberto Castillo, I greeted his children “Togis” and Lilian before entering where don Gilberto sat, promising I’d only steal a few minutes – though these minutes extended until more than an hour went by. Lilian peeked in the office, I suppose to save him from all the questions and conversation – the topic of the interview was about the NASA astronauts who did training in the area of the Pinacate various decades earlier. However, we jumped from one anecdote to another and that’s how we passed the time, between laughter and lively joking.
How could I do a quick interview with someone with so much history?, I wondered as I drove back, after feeling guilty for not having kept my promise of only stealing a few minutes from don Castillo that turned into nearly two hours.
There are many anecdotes and histories that could be written about the mark don Gilberto left on Puerto Peñasco in the areas of culture, politics, as a businessman, farmer, and among friends and family. How easy it would be to leave out all that could be written.
Yet honestly, with just a meeting to talk or exchange greetings it was easy to appreciate the gift for people and sparkle that don Gilberto shared.
Oscar Palacio Soto remembers Gilberto Castillo Montiel as a friend of his father don Oscar Palacio Madueño, as well as Mayor of Puerto Peñasco from 1976-1979. Palacio also recalls don Gilberto as a leader in always defending that things needed to be done well, stating, “He always argued things needed to be done well and with the community’s interest in mind, with a vision that things could not be left in a state of anarchy.”
Palacio Soto also acknowledges the determination of don Castillo in opening the Puerto Peñasco – Caborca highway, noting, “He did that with municipal funds, purely dirt road – there were about 10,000 residents in Puerto Peñasco.
In addition to his entrepreneurial vision as gas station owner, don Gilberto Castillo also tried his hand as farmer in Sonoyta and was always traveling to the neighboring city to oversee work. He also founded the local Chamber of Commerce (CANACO) as well as “Baracuda” friends club. Among his work as Mayor stands out his furtherance of Plaza del Camarón, initially begun by don Oscar Palacio Madueño.
His ample background led don Gilberto to also enter into arts. In addition to being a founding supporter of the Puerto Peñasco Music School, don Guillermo Munro Palacio recalls Castillo as an actor in theater which Munro director. Don Memo also recalls various anecdotes about don Gilberto: “It was in 1978 in the play Los Albañiles with Fernando González Gaxiola, Alberto Haaz, and Jorge Bonillas where Gilberto Castillo took part. Gilberto would come to practice full of enthusiasm and professionalism and learned all the dialogs. It was a grand attraction and a success on stage!”
“Afterwards,” comments Guillermo Munro Palacio, “Gilberto invited me to be part of the Rotary Club and I directed Dracula for them.”
In his various roles, don Gilberto made many friends, some of whom he kept up through his final days. His son, Gilberto “Togis” Castillo recalls among his father’s dearest firiends were Mr. Ramón Martínez (of the Estrellita gas station) and don Héctor Rivera.
At the final farewell to don Gilberto, numerous friends and family gathered at City Hall to pay homage and remember Castillo as Mayor. Similar homage was paid to don Gilberto at the local CANACO, as well as on the patio of his business located along Blvd. Benito Juárez.
¡¡¡Buen viaje don Gilberto!!!