“Fulfilling His Dreams,” Ensign, Oct. 2000, 68–69
Luciano Duarte, who has served in a branch presidency or bishopric for more than half a century, has also been a popular disc jockey, making him perhaps one of the best-known Latter-day Saints in Laredo, Texas. His radio career spanned 37 years, and although there were several Spanish radio stations in the area, his program at times attracted more than 50 percent of the listening audience.
Born in 1922, Luciano was a small child when his family joined the Church. As a young man during World War II, he fought in Europe and was awarded a Bronze Star. After the war, Luciano organized a Latin band and began performing on the radio, reawakening a childhood dream that had begun at age 14 while he worked the controls in a radio station.
In 1949 Luciano—or “Chano,” as his friends call him—married Consuelo Martinez. Soon afterward Luciano received his first call to serve as president of Laredo’s Spanish-speaking branch, making him at 27 the youngest branch president in the Spanish-American Mission. Over the years he continued to pursue his interest in radio.
While in his 40s he returned to school to fulfill yet another lifelong dream: to become a teacher. A counselor at the university asked, “Aren’t you too old for that?” Nevertheless, Brother Duarte persisted. After receiving his degree at age 50, he began a 21-year career teaching English as a second language during the day while entertaining the people of Laredo by night.
In 1985 the mayor of Laredo declared 12 December to be Luciano Duarte Day in honor of his musical contribution. Thirteen years later he was inducted into the Tejano Music Hall of Fame. But for Brother Duarte, who, 50 years later, is still serving as president of a Spanish-speaking branch in Laredo, the time he spends in service to his family, branch members, and the Lord gives him his greatest satisfaction.—Richard O. Cowan, Provo 13th Ward, Provo Utah East Stake