archives of the mother of Laredo schools, we present one of Laredo’s best-kept
artistic marvels, a legend in his own time, a self-made achiever in the best
sense of the word. What follows is perhaps the best example of achievement at
its finest, a person who undertook arduous challenges, never telling himself
they were impossible, but rather seeing them as difficult obstacles that needed
to be overcome. He is person who took advantage of every opportunity presented and
fashioned, against all odds, a brilliant career; he removed any doubt of the
Hispanic potential and its significant impact and contribution to the world
of Fine Arts and Education. His accomplishments will benefit
generations to come. The pioneering spirit of Dr. Neo Gutierrez will serve as an
inspirational beacon that will shepherd generations of children towards success.
Once A Tiger, Always A Tiger!
following is based on answers submitted by Dr. Neo to questions asked as part of
the induction into the Raymond And Tirza Martin High School’s Tiger Legends.
Rolando S. Lopez
Editor Laredo Hall Of Fame
Born Ireneo Gutierrez Jr., to Ireneo and Emma Ramirez Gutierrez, descendants of
Bernardo Gutierrez de Lara in
Zapata County. As a child attended Zapata schools, later moving to Laredo and
attending McDonnell Elementary. At age 13, he graduated L.J. Christen; in 1952
at age 16, he graduated with honors from Martin. While in high school he
was a member of the Martin High and ROTC Bands and wrote for the Martin High
The Laredo Journal.
Upon graduation he received The Laredo Rotary Club scholarship and The John Hay
Whitney Fellowship Award from New York City, all expenses paid to University of
Texas in Austin, Texas. He was one
of 8 Mexican American students throughout Texas selected by this NYC Foundation
for this honor. The foundation wanted to know what would happen if you educated a
student from a minority ethnic group.
In 1955 at 19 he received his Bachelor Of Journalism and in 1958 his Master
of Arts in Dance from Teachers College, Columbia University, New York City, at age
21. After many years teaching he returned to school and received his Doctorate
in Philosophy and Dance and Related Fine Arts in 1987 from Texas Woman’s
University. Neo also attended Graduate Schools at UCLA and the University of
Southern California in the city of Angels. Among the unique dance teachers
in his lifetime, he considers one of the most outstanding to be Eduardo Cansino,
father of the world-famous Hollywood movie dance star, Rita Hayworth, who was
trained in dance by her father. Neo studied with Mr. Cansino at the Galo Studio
in Laredo in the mid-50's.
many awards: 1st. Place in entire U.S. as Director of Beverly Hills-Acapulco
Student Exchange Program. National recognition from National Education
Association for designing and directing The Global Village
Project at Beverly Hills as declared by the mayor of Beverly Hills, California.
Dr. Neo was the first man in the state of Texas to receive a doctorate degree in
dance, and the first teacher in Laredo, Texas to teach modern jazz dance. In
1997, when he retired from Beverly Hills High School after 32 yrs. on the
faculty , the mayor of Beverly Hills named Dr. Gutierrez "Senor
Internacional de Beverly Hills 1997."
After 45 years of teaching, Dr. Neo, as this down-to-earth master of a thousand
talents prefers to be called, retired as a public school teacher in May 2000. In
his long career he has been a dancer, choreographer, director, and producer of
dance and television. He spent 32
yrs. at Beverly Hills High School in Beverly Hills, California, and 3 yrs. at
Churchill High School in San Antonio. He started teaching at age 19 at
Christen Jr. High in Laredo, Texas, and also taught for Los Angeles City Schools
and U.S. Army in Europe. He was on the faculty of the Dance Dept. at Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas, and he was the originator and director of
the Pan American Dance Theater of Austin, Texas. He was director for
televisions OTI in Los Angeles, and he was producer for The Luisa Triana
Spanish Dance Co. of Los Angeles. He was also a dance producer for KUHT-TV,
public broadcasting in Houston, TX. In
retirement now, he continues as a free-lance writer
and an independent producer for City of Laredo Public Access TV, which he has
done every year in December since Public Access TV started in Laredo. His
television work in Laredo is done as community service, and he considers this
his way of giving back to the community of Laredo, which he loves because this
is where he was taught how to do things the right way.
Neos first job was as a bus boy during the summer of 1951 at the Hamilton Hotel
Coffee Shop. He worked seven days a week for $11
per week, in order to buy school
clothes for his graduation year, most days going hungry because the hotel did
not allow workers to eat there. After graduation he worked for a summer as a
bill clerk for Central Power and Light. “My work ethic was instilled by
Gudalupe Ramirez, my maternal grandfather in Zapata, Texas, who taught everyone
that you had to produce something in life (like work) or you would not make
it,” he says.
He adds: I attribute my success to family, friends, and freedom, a sense of truth,
compassion, and respect for everyone. Obey the law, study, organize, and work
hard, and within the law, never fear anyone, especially people in power. Failure
is never an option (in other words, we all fail at one time or another-but the
winners are the ones who, after they fall, get up, they dust themselves off, and
try and try again, until you get there). Always aim for the highest objective,
so that even if you don’t make it all the way to the top, you will still
accomplish something significant. Always have a plan of action short-term and
long term, to make your objective reality. And use your imagination, think
always of what can be, and know that ‘si se puede’, as Dr. Armando Ayala,
California University professor often says. Ayala was Drum Major when Dr.
Neo was a freshman at MHS.
As far as mentors, he recalls his journalism teacher, Mrs. Anne Novak as
one that lit the light within, the one who inspired him. Mrs. Novak and Miss
Lupe Cabrera were responsible for getting his “life-saving” scholarships to
He adds: It’s a totally different world now. I recall no fences at MHS, so we
must enjoy our freedom, but always, always be vigilant. Violence has made fences
a must, as well as locking our doors at night. I grew up at the corner of
Convent and Callaghan, I never knew what barrio it was, but it was so much safer
He Concludes: "My fondes memories at MHS are of playing with the Band and writing for the
Laredo Journal; trips to the Battle of Flowers, and competitions at
Tiger, Always A Tiger