The Extraordinary Ordinary: Rita Montes Martin

Having orbited the Sun more than ninety times now and with no desire to retire, Rita Montes Martin has led an extraordinary life. And she is still going strong.  A serial entrepreneur and creative problem solver, Rita has several irons in the fire most of the time—an inspirational media company in development, some real estate deals, political activism to make it mandatory for Davis to be entirely off the grid and reliant on solar, authoring books, and turning a friend’s book into a screenplay, for example. Her friend Ruth once asked her in amazement, “Where do all your ideas come from?”

Rita has worn many hats, but the preponderance of her career has been in real estate. She was a loan officer and the only female appraiser for Great Western, as well as several other financial institutions, and has worked closely with builders and developers throughout her career.  Rita recalled that land developers were surprised when the appraiser walked into their office in spike high heels with her hair done up.

Rita’s vocation in real estate began by running a stoplight in LA, where she lived at the time. A new stop sign was installed on an old, familiar route and Rita whizzed right by it and got a ticket. She didn’t have a job and, on the way to court to address the ticket, she stopped off at a flower shop to apply for work. During her job interview, Rita mentioned that she was on her way to court to pay the ticket. The flower shop owner asked her if she had any money. She said, “No.” He gave her $20 on the spot.

When she got to court, the man seated next to her was an attorney.  And the bailiff was someone she had met at a dance. When the attorney found out that she was looking for work, he gave her the business card of a man who worked for Los Angeles Federal Savings and Loan, and told her to go see him…that he’d give her a job.

"I was always the instigator. I like stirring things up."

Meanwhile, Rita got herself into hot water by contesting the ticket and requesting a jury trial. (She had always loved Perry Mason and theater, so she decided to seize the opportunity.) The judge then set bail, which she could not pay, and ordered her to jail. The bailiff, whom she already knew from the dance, stepped in on her behalf and got her out of the predicament. She then had to pay the ticket. It was $20, which she had, thanks to the flower shop owner. Rita saw the gentlemen on the card, got the job at Los Angeles Federal Savings and Loan, and has been in love with real estate ever since. “Real estate is fascinating,” she said, “It grows. There is always something to learn and a lot of money to be made. Over the years, I’ve learned the many facets of the building industry.”

Thank you, Rita, for being such a vibrant light in our community and inspiring us all. Thank you for showing us the beauty, wisdom and grace of experience. Thank you for your insatiable appetite for learning and adventure. Thank you for being so extraordinary.