James Morton Montgomery
July 4, 1931 – August 7, 2018
James Morton (Jim) Montgomery, (87) of Sandy Springs (Atlanta), GA died peacefully with family at his side on Tuesday, August 7, 2018, just hours after suffering a hemorrhagic stroke.
A proud son of the South, Jim was known for his intellect, integrity, inquisitiveness and varied interests. He possessed an encyclopedic knowledge of topics ranging from history to wildlife, poetry and printing presses. Family and friends enjoyed the breadth and depth of his “nickel knowledge” as well as his more erudite insights, his dry wit, and his vivid stories of people and places. He greatly respected people who were “dirty-handed scholars,” people with both active minds and practical skills, and shared their ability to swing a hammer, sit at dawn in a duck blind, and make mechanical repairs.
A career public relations and marketing executive, he established Montgomery & Associates in 1985, specializing in strategic counseling in crisis and environmental areas. He came to Atlanta in 1977 as CEO of the Southern Forest Institute, then the information and education arm of the forest products industry. Simultaneously he was a senior officer of the American Forest Institute in Washington, DC, supervising all its regional, conservation (Tree Farm) and educational programs (including Smokey Bear). He joined AFI after heading the public relations and advertising programs of Gulf States Paper Corp. His long career began in 1954 as base information services officer at the Wheelus Air Force Base in Tripoli, Libya. Peers honored his career by electing him to the College of Fellows of the Public Relations Society of America and to the Order of the Phoenix, the Georgia PRSA Hall of Fame at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Communications. He received numerous prestigious professional honors, including the Silver Medal of the American Advertising Federation and the Silver Bell of the Advertising Council. He was profiled in Who’s Who in America.
Jim was the youngest child of Hugh Nelson Montgomery and Sidney Tazewell Morton Montgomery in Birmingham, AL. A child of the Depression, Jim remembered fondly his childhood years saying “We weren’t poor, we just didn’t have any money. No one did.”
After graduating from Ramsey High School, he earned an AB degree in design and journalism and an MBA in marketing at the University of Alabama. While there he was edited the campus humor magazine and was elected to membership in a variety of groups, including Omicron Delta Kappa and Jasons leadership societies and Beta Gamma Sigma academic society in business administration. Through the years he was an adjunct professor and guest lecturer at several universities, teaching marketing, public relations and even military science.
A 55-plus-year member of Kiwanis International, he was active in the downtown Atlanta Club, having served as president of the Tuscaloosa Kiwanis Club. For many years he served on the Advisory Boards of the Salvation Army in Metro Atlanta and Tuscaloosa. His wide spectrum of interests was reflected in his presidencies of groups ranging from professional and civic organizations to a hunting club and a Mardi Gras krewe. He was president of the Burns Club of Atlanta, Atlanta’s oldest cultural organization, and of the Clan Montgomery Society International. Jim was honored for his knowledge and appreciation of Montgomery family Scottish history by the Earl of Eglinton and Winton who appointed him as Sennachie for North America, a role he served for more than a decade. His deep knowledge of and respect for Scottish poet Robert Burns is reflected in his paper “How Robert Burns Captured America,” published in the journal Studies of Scottish Literature.
Avocational interests included hunting, water color painting, American and British history and enjoying his rural property, “Longview.” His basement was dominated by antique printing presses and type where he reigned as “prop.” of the private Head & Anchor Press, setting type, cutting linoleum block and wood illustrations and operating the hand-fed presses. This lifelong hobby perfectly married his journalism and art skills. His portfolio of printing projects fills notebooks, and includes Christmas cards, birth announcements, invitations, stationery and labels for jars of home-made jam and pickles. For more than two decades he produced elaborate programs for the annual Burns Night dinner of the Atlanta Burns Club. He was in the midst of arranging the gifting of his press equipment to Kennesaw State University’s printmaking program so that the craft can remain vibrant.
Despite his many interests, a genuine love for his profession and his many volunteer activities, Jim was first and foremost a family man and friend to many. His bent for history contributed to his remarkable ability to link family history from any generation to the cultural, geo-political and military events of that period. As a result, his recounting of family stories painted memorable and vivid word pictures that brought characters and places to life. He was actively researching and organizing family papers from the Civil War at the time of his death, and his illustration of the original 16th century Montgomery family settlement in France is published in a French book on the history of the Calvados region. His vast store of family tales included those of his two forebears who served as presidents of the University of Alabama, his artists grandmother and aunt, his father’s sports, engineering and photography accomplishments and his mother’s commitment to education (and proper use of the English language).
Because he was born on the Fourth of July, this occasion was always celebrated with special fanfare, including his most recent at the Burns Club of Atlanta with 75 friends toasting him.
His progeny and theirs was his ultimate pride and joy. Shared times were the highlights he savored, from baptisms and graduations to the Thanksgiving gatherings of the last two decades.
He is survived by his wife of 25 years, Helen Preston Tapp, and his four children, Louis M. Montgomery and Dr. Caroline M. Brown (E.T. Brown, III), both of Birmingham, AL, Fleta M. Edwards (Bill Edwards) of Tuscaloosa, AL, and the Rev. Dr. Helen M. DeBevoise (Dr. Dan DeBevoise) of Winter Park, FL; and by a granddaughter Hannah DeBevoise Patterson (Grant) of Tampa, FL, and ten grandsons, ( Jamie Montgomery of Washington, DC, 1st Lt. Cavett Montgomery, Alabama Army National Guard (Taylor Sorenson) of Birmingham, 1st Lt. Marshall Montgomery, U.S. Army, of Japan, E.T. Brown, IV (Katie) of Nashville, TN, Montgomery Brown also of Nashville, Donald DeBevoise of Washington, DC, John DeBevoise of Tampa, William Edwards (Caitlin) of Tuscaloosa, AL, Charles Edwards and Joseph Edwards, also of Tuscaloosa), and great-granddaughter Darcie Montgomery of Birmingham. Other survivors include his brother-in-law Wardlaw “Stumpy” Watson of Birmingham, and five nieces and nephews and their children and grandchildren. He is predeceased by his sister Fleta Montgomery Watson and his brother Hugh Nelson Montgomery, Jr.
A visitation with family will be held Friday, August 10, 2018 from 2:00 to 4:00 PM at H.M. Patterson & Son – Arlington Chapel in Sandy Springs. Memorial services will be held Saturday, August 11, 2018, at 11:00 AM at Trinity Presbyterian Church, Atlanta, followed by a reception. In lieu of flowers, Jim wished that memorials be directed to the Salvation Army of Metro Atlanta or the Burns Club of Atlanta’s Robert Burns Cottage maintenance fund.
- Visitation Friday, August 10, 2018
- Memorial Service Saturday, August 11, 2018
James Morton Montgomery
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August 11, 2018
As longtime members of PRSA, Jim and I worked together on many projects and served on various committees. Jim was a leader and an idea man. I admired his intellect and sense of humor, and I am deeply sad to hear of his passing.
August 11, 2018
Many wonderful memories with Jim at The Salvation Army and Kiwanis. Love to Helen and this wonderful family - thank you for sharing Jim with me!
August 10, 2018
Jim was a Friend in Kiwanis of Atlanta from time HE joined. I joined 1961 and HE likely 1963. We both were at Kiwanis every week. A real Gentleman.
JIM invited My Wife and Me to an evening Meeting several Years ago to the Robert Burns Cottage on Alloway palace, SE. Such a most pleasant Highlight for Us. My life, I am 93, was in the Grant Park area and I had visited the
"Grounds" of the Burns Cottage but never inside until Jim's Invitation.
A TRUE Gentleman and Friend to so many has left us.
Marc Morris🌞 and BJ Morris
Kenneth H. Thomas
August 9, 2018
Aug 9, 2018
I met Jim via the Inquiry Club which meets once a month during the "school year" at the Piedmont Driving club. We both joined about the same time c. 2011. I had never met him before, but we shared many a dinner there over the past seven years, many times with his wife Helen. In fact I sat next to Jim at one of our last meetings this Spring. He was a very interesting character and we always had plenty to talk about, including our mutual experiences in the US Air Force, he in Libya, if I recall. Mine in England. I didn't realize he was so much older than I am. We had a lot in common and I will miss his friendship. Such a shock.
Kenneth H. Thomas, Jr.