James Horace Montgomery ’55

Mr. James Horace Montgomery, “Mr. Mont”, 86, of Lake City died at his home on Alligator Lake on Saturday, December 7, 2019.

Born March 14, 1933, to parents, Reverend Edwin F. Montgomery and Margaret Horton Montgomery, he was the youngest of three boys. He followed the example of his parents and brothers in giving his life to the service of others. He dedicated his life to his teaching, his church, and his community.

James grew up in Lake City graduating from CHS in 1951, from Davidson College in 1955 and Union Theological Seminary in 1958. He earned a Masters Degree in history from Jacksonville in 1967. His passion was teaching, first at Five Points Elementary School, then at Columbia High School and Florida Gateway College.

Though he was a demanding teacher for nearly 60 years, he taught not only a thorough knowledge of the subject but also by example an admirable way of life. His love for his students was unbounded both in class and outside of class. Students enjoyed trips to the circus, cookouts at his home after prom gatherings, etc.

He coached the girls tennis team for 17 years, attended nearly all class reunions, and participated in many weddings. Mr. Mont developed personal relationships with his students which have lasted through the years. He was honored as Columbia County Teacher of the Year, Coca Cola Educator of distinction, and DAR History Teacher of the Year. CHS Seniors chose him to give the Baccalaureate address 21 times.

James contributed many scholarships to Florida Gateway College for his students to continue their education. His influence will be felt for a lifetime in the students he loved and taught.

He was devoted to the First Presbyterian Church where he grew up and where his father and brother, Edwin, Jr. had been pastors. His Sunday School Class for adults began in a small Sunday School Room, moved to a larger room, and then to the fellowship hall to accommodate those who wanted to attend. He served as an Elder and sang in the choir for over 50 years, loved working in the church yard, planting and watering to make the grounds more beautiful.

James was an Eagle Scout and served as Scoutmaster for Troop 85, the church-sponsored group, for eight years and received the rarely given national award from the National Scouting Association of Outstanding Eagle Scouts. In the community he looked for ways to better the lives of the people, often doing projects himself or helping to finance them.

He served as a County Commissioner for 28 years and on the North Florida Regional Council for 27 years. He received too many awards, citations and honors to list them all. Among them were the Paul Harris Fellow, The National Life of Achievement by President Barack Obama, Rotary Citizen of the Year, Florida Gateway College Friends of the Foundation, the North Florida Family Values Award, the American Cancer Society Courage Award and the Jaycees Distinguished Service Award.

A city street was also named the James Montgomery Avenue, and a building at Florida Gateway College was named for him. He contributed to so many community organizations and charities, many reminders of his foresight and work will be visible for many years to come.

Preceding him in death were his parents, and his older brothers, Edwin and David, and David’s wife Theta.

He is survived by his sister in law, June Montgomery (wife of Edwin); four nephews, Edwin Montgomery, III (Jennifer), Joe Montgomery (Rebekah), Jim Montgomery (Cynthia), and Alan Montgomery (Carole); niece, Janet Montgomery Hughes (Tim); four grandnephews, seven grandnieces, and four great grandnephews.

James extended the Montgomery family to include several other families, none closer than the Ives family: Tommy, Patty, Bruce, Tricia, and Mary Ann for which the family is very grateful.
Celebration of Life services will be announced later.