Dateline: September 26, 2002


William Smith “Bill” Montgomery, age 88, of Clarendon and Memphis, Texas, went to be with the Lord on Tuesday, September 17, 2002.

Services were be at 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 19, 2002, at the First Presbyterian Church in Clarendon with Lay Pastor Rick Massick officiating.  Burial were Citizen’s Cemetery in Clarendon.  Arrangements were by Robertson Funeral Directors in Clarendon.

Mr. Montgomery was born in Clarendon on February 6, 1914.  He grew up in the home that is still occupied by his nephew, Montye Smith and wife, Linda.  He received his education in the Clarendon schools.  He continued his education as an apprentice to his father in farming and ranching.  His father, Will and twin brother, Jim, homesteaded land in Hall County when they were 18 years of age in 1890.  He was always mindful of his heritage and remained a faithful steward o the land he farmed and ranched.

He and his brothers, Paul and Joe Montgomery, owned and operated independent farming and ranching businesses in Hall County.  His children and his nephews and nieces continue their connection to the land.  Cattle ranching was not only Bill’s vocation but also his hobby.  He was one of those rare individuals who truly loved what he did for a profession.  His cow horses worked with him and for him and were his loyal friends.  He was still riding his horse at 80 years of age, even though he had to have a lift up.  He never really retired.  He bought and sold cattle this past year.

Mr. Montgomery’s work ethic has been passed on to his children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and nieces and nephews. He taught them “if something is worth doing, it is worth doing well.”  He taught them the value of a good education.  He challenged them “to lead the way regardless of the task.” He told them “get up and get back on” when the horse threw them.  He believed that his children should “rise and shine and listen to the birdies sing.”  As a survivor of the depression era, he always remembered the importance of saving, never wasting a dime, and protecting what he had earned.  He believed and lived the truisms, “a penny saved is a penny earned” and “waste not, want not.”

He married Faye R. Higgins on July 1, 1934, in the parlor of the First Presbyterian Church of Memphis.  Three children were born to them, JoAnne Montgomery Moore, William Grady Montgomery, and Sherry Noel Montgomery Semrad.  Grady preceded his father in death in 1969.

Mr. Montgomery was a lifelong member of the First Presbyterian Church in Clarendon, where he served as an elder just like his father before him.  His parents were the first couple to marry in the First Presbyterian Church of Clarendon.

Survivors include two daughters, JoAnne Moore and husband James of Canyon Lake, Texas, and Sherry Semrad and husband James of Tucson, Arizona; five grandchildren, Terri Truitt Griffiths and husband John of Houston, Tanya Truitt Puroff and husband Chris of Amarillo, Melissa Semrad and husband Marco Vera of St. Paul, Minnesota, Matt Semrad and wife Shelly Watkins of Dallas, Michelle Semrad of Los Angeles, California; five great grandchildren, Nicholas and Leah Puroff of Amarillo, Katrin Snider and Mateo Vera of St. Paul and Ari Vaclav Hardarson of Los Angeles.

He leaves with them memories of a truly unique individual.  He nicknamed each and every family member from “Dogface” and “Hinkly-Dink” to “Holy Terror,” “Tiger Tom,” “Ye Ole Melissa,” “Matt Dillon,” and “Mee Shell.”  They treasure the “RrrranDadisms,” such as “I’m gonna cleanup the car and take it dancing” or “rattle my hocks.”  He loved dancing to “Star Dust,” “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” and other Big Band music.  He loved singing hymns accompanied by his mother or at church.  He said, “I want to keep climbing to another branch on the tree and be careful about breaking a limb on the way up.” Even as his health failed, sparks of humor surfaced.  He answered a question about how he was feeling with a quip, “Oh, about 20.”

His grandson, Matt, read and re-read Pearl Buck’s The Good Earth because the book strongly brought his Granddad to mind. He thinks the central character misses his Granddad’s affection, toughness, and humor.  Nevertheless, many of the passages are reminiscent of the life Granddad lived.  As he leaves us this autumn, the harvest is bountiful from the seeds he has sewn.  He is proud of his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.  He is the last of the real cowboys.

He was preceded in death by his parents, William M. and Sarah; brothers Paul and Joe; and his sister, Edna Louise Smith.  Three other siblings, John Calvin, Clara Careen, and Willie Clinton died in early childhood.

The family suggests that memorial be made to the First Presbyterian Church in Clarendon or to BSA Hospice of Amarillo.

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