Humberto Zamora: A History of Service & Success
Humberto Zamora’s life started from humble beginnings and has turned into a true Valley success story of rich history, patronage, business ingenuity, and community service. His story is a testament to the pursuit of education and a willingness to serve your country valiantly and work hard for the future you desire. It all began to unfold in the 1940s in Harlingen, Texas.
Zamora was born on June 19, 1947, Emancipation Day, which honors African American heritage by celebrating the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas. Zamora grew up behind what was the Hygeia Dairy Bar on F Street in Harlingen in a predominately black neighborhood. Because he was the birthday boy, Zamora was invited to join in the June 19th festivities with his neighbors. He grew up with a sports background and comes from a family of football players. After graduating from Harlingen High School, he went on to attend the University of Texas Pan American. He says he “worked first and went to school second,” being a night student for much of his tertiary education.
Humberto believes education is the answer to almost everything and certainly to his continued success. He earned his bachelor degree at U.T. Pan American, a Masters Degree in Education Administration from the University of Texas Austin, Economic Development Specialist at Washington D.C. and Housing and Urban Development specialist at the University of Texas at San Antonio. While in the military he also attended the University in Heidelberg, Germany and the University of London while in Europe. He only lacks his dissertation to complete his PhD.
His father was a former military man who worked for RGV Gas Company as a meter reader. He attended college in the evenings. Zamora was the eldest of his six siblings and often drove along with his father and coached him on his college work. While his father attended classes, Zamora went in to the library and studied his father’s homework for the next day. His father climbed the ladder of his educational endeavors and eventually worked for NASA teaching higher math to the engineers and astronauts. Math similarly came easy to Zamora.
As a young man, Zamora worked as a migrant farm worker in the summers in Ohio, Michigan, and Idaho picking the seasonal fare in each location. “I believe in working. I have worked all my life. I had my first job at 12. And I get to do good things,” Zamora shares.
The family would return home with money for the next school year. During the first year of the military draft, Zamora received his draft papers and was sent to San Francisco and then on to Vietnam in a demilitarized zone, or DMZ. Zamora served as a military policeman as well as in the 101st Airborne Division. He received a very rare Air Medal, which is only given to soldiers after they have completed more than 25 helicopter rides in which they land in the middle of a war zone as support for the troops there and survive. Additionally, his unit received a citation for their brave efforts. After leaving Vietnam, Zamora was sent to Germany and had the opportunity to study at the University of Heidelberg and then the University of London because of the English-speaking programs they offered there. He absorbed a different perspective, language, and economy during his time in Europe. Zamora states, “Knowing where you are going and remembering where you came from has helped me through all my college studying, surviving in combat, and thorough my business career.
Umberto Zamora returned to the Valley and began working with the Colonia Del Valle, a non profit organization in San Juan. He earned a White House Fellowship and was given the opportunity to live in Washington DC for a year and learn about business from a government perspective. Under the Nixon administration, Zamora worked with the Economic Development Administration and witnessed the fight the Republican Party waged against the communist stronghold in Mexico. Knowing the impact that would have on his home in the Rio Grande Valley, Zamora supported the Republican efforts, which were the same efforts he had fought for oversees, and backed Republicans with his voting. He overcame the stigma of being a Republican in the Valley and has shared his views with others.
Once back in the Valley, The University of Texas Pan American hired Zamora to write grants for them. He had earned his Master’s Degree, and the University of Texas offered him an administrator job in which he sought financial aid for clinics, hospitals, and nursing homes.
From then on, he was self employed and worked on commission. He borrowed $1,700 from a friend and social worker in San Juan, Francisco Riones, to start his own business. After a short time, he asked Riones what it would take to buy out his half of the company, and the answer was $25,000. His first commission check netted that and more, and in less than a year, Zamora was a millionaire with Texas Aries Medical Financial Services. Once his business expanded beyond Texas, he changed the company name to Medical Third Party Resources, which it maintains today.
Zamora presents to and contracts with hospital board of directors and feels that his start with Valley Baptist Hospital in Harlingen is one of the biggest blessings in his life. The Director at the time, Ben McKibbens, gave him a start on a volunteer basis, and those efforts expanded into Corpus, San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, and then Oklahoma City, Oregon, and the Carolinas.
“It really is simple: federally funded programs operate by the same rules in every state. My system is tuned into these rules,” Zamora states.
Furthermore, Zamora developed and owns the Valley’s Border Patrol Station, along with the biggest satellite tower in the Valley. He learned of some location and facility needs of the federal government through the Government Services Administration, or GSA, and has been in a position to provide resources through private development to meet those needs for ample compensation. Zamora began LA Ventures and has had success in a development enterprise around the Laredo Airport. He has also funded a computer center for Loaves and Fishes to help educate the community through free access to information.
His future plans include partnering with the state of Texas to make the Valley the entry door to economical food coming out of Mexico that lasts much longer after going through a rigorous sterilization process. He is a licensed aggregator, which allows him the position to negotiate directly with power companies, and he would like to model a system in operation in Ohio to lower power costs for Valley residents. Moreover, Zamora is working on a system that would provide free schools.
Zamora has used the philosophies of the Republican administration and his aggressive business sense to earn success in the business world. When asked what his secret to success is, he has a simple answer: reading. He says the internet has a wealth of information, and it is information that drives people to further knowledge and achievement.
“Doors of opportunity do not exist for all of our culture. They are there, but they are not open. We have to work harder. I preach to my employees that I will build the door of opportunity. Sometimes you have to create your own doors. And then you can open them up to more than you thought possible,” Zamora concludes.