Well known for her civic and religious activities as well as her distinguished career in communications, Diana Munatones passed away at Arcadia Methodist Hospital last Saturday, March 18. She was 66.
According to her family, she was surrounded by family and friends when she died.
Born in Greeley, Colorado on March 12,1946 to the late Reverend Jose and Lily Padilla, Munatones’ early years were spent following her father’s ministry throughout the Southwest, living in Texas and New Mexico before finally settling in Los Angeles; Diana was thirteen.
After completing college, which included studying Journalism and Public Relations East Los Angeles College and earning her B.A. and M.A. degrees in Spanish from Cal State Los Angeles in 1970, Munatones embarked on what would be a distinguished career in communication management.
In a statement announcing Munatones’ passing, family and friends recalled that Diana started out as a television production assistant, and worked her way up through the various ranks of television to become a producer, host, writer and director of many cable, local and network television programs in English and Spanish.
Her broadcast career started in 1973 at KCBS, formerly known as KNXT Channel 2, a CBS owned and operated television station as the host of “Bienvenidos,” and co-host of “It Takes All Kinds.”
In 1977 she joined KNBC TV as a reporter and associate producer and host of the “Today Show.” She was also associate producer for the Emmy Award nominated “Noticiero Estudiantil” on KLCS Channel 58 and staff teacher for Emmy Award winning English version Student News. She was also host/producer for “Summer Faire” on the local PBS station.
By 1977, as Director of Community Broadcast Relations at KNXT and Director of Special Projects for CBS Inc, Munatones was the highest-ranking Latina in television broadcast management.
Munatones also had a lifelong relationship with the Los Angeles Unified School District, first as a student and years later as LAUSD’s Director of Communications. She was hired in 1988.
While at LAUSD, she worked with KLCS-58 television developing a weekly newscast of district news both in English and Spanish. She also produced special programs for the school district, supervised Internal Communications, Public Information and created LAUSD’s Translations Unit. She retired from the District in 2009 as a site coordinator/teacher.
Munatones was married twice, the first time in 1965 to Conrad Munatones. She would keep Munatones as her professional name while married to the now deceased Robert E. Brimberry.
Diana was involved with many civic and religious groups, raising money for needy people, groups, and organizations, including the Latin American Assemblies of God churches pastured by her father (deceased) Rev. Jose Padilla, where she served as the charitable contributions director. While with the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, she personally identified and selected 25 local ethnically diverse community groups to receive the Foundation’s first $16 million in grants.
Munatones also produced many fundraising events, such as telethons for community groups and television and theater premieres such as Zoot Suit with Edward James Olmos in conjunction with CBS/KNXT.
Munatones was appointed to serve as a member of the Foreign Policy Advisory Commission under President Jimmy Carter. She was a member of the Board of Directors of Centro de Ninos, the Mexican Cultural Institute, and served as an advisor on grant writing and proposal editing for individuals and institutions. She was also a member of the
Order of Eastern Star Hollywood Chapter 21 in South Pasadena and Order of the Amaranth Golden Crown Court No. 2 Masonic Center in Rosemead, CA.
She is survived by her daughters Cozette and Sharon, her son Brian and daughter-in- law Stefanie Munatones, grandson Jonas Benedikt Munatones, 5 sisters and 2 brothers, their spouses, and numerous nieces and nephews.
Details of a Celebration of Diana’s Life Memorial Service scheduled for April 18th, 2012, have not yet been released. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for donations to be made to Centro de Ninos, Inc. and “Hooked on Jesus” Huron Rescue Mission in Munatones’ name.