Known for his kind and gentle spirit, Dr. Ron Montgomery left a lasting impression on all of those who knew him and are now mourning the passing of one of Sampson County’s finest pillars of the community.
Montgomery has worn many hats throughout his 67 years of life, but is most known for his service and dedication to the education community. A native of Guilford County, he served many roles in the educational field throughout his tenure with Guilford County Schools, Clinton City Schools, Hyde County Schools, Harrells Christian Academy and most recently, Elizabethtown Christian Academy.
“I was fortunate to be able to meet with Dr. Montgomery several times and was always blessed by his encouragement and wisdom,” Kevin Kunst, headmaster at HCA stated on the school’s Facebook page. “The impact of his leadership at Harrells can be felt in every inch of this campus.”
From 2002-2012, Montgomery served as the headmaster at HCA, a job he accepted after retiring from public education. While serving as headmaster at HCA, Montgomery developed lasting relationships with the many who served under his leadership.
Betty Newkirk, who has been a part of HCA for 47 years, said the passing of Montgomery is a great loss for the HCA family and entire community.
“He was a special, Christian man,” Newkirk shared when contacted by telephone after the news of Montgomery’s death began to spread across the community. “We are truly going to miss him.”
Newkirk said she has continued to keep her closeness with Montgomery over the last four years since he left HCA and began working at Elizabethtown Christian, where he grew the school from an idea to an educational ministry that serves almost 100 students.
“Dr. M was a God fearing, loving and compassionate person,” Beverly Bridgers, current headmaster at the Elizabethtown school, said. “He was one of those who had an open door policy with the students, which allowed the kids to be able to talk to him about anything.”
According to Bridgers, Montgomery was the type of man who cared about the students and making their educational experiences the best it could be.
“His gentleness will be missed,” Bridgers added.
The decision to serve both HCA and ECA came without hesitation, after serving in the public system for the better part of his life. In 2012, when Montgomery made the move from Harrells to Elizabethtown, he said he was excited about the change, but very emotional about leaving the students he had grown to cherish during his 10-year tenure.
Montgomery had many passions in life, but the one most remember him for is his passion to spread the love of Christ to all those he met. While serving as headmaster at HCA, Montgomery traveled to Africa as a consulting ministry to a new Christian school, as well as held many positions at his church, First Baptist Church of Clinton. He was a Sunday school teacher, trustee, deacon, minister of music, moderator, song leader, choir director, a member of the administrative committee as well as the Next Steps Task Force.
While Montgomery held a strong love for Christ, he had a great love for his family as well. For the last 44 years, he shared his life with his wife, Bennie, and his four children and 13 grandchildren.
Affectionately known as “Grandfather” by his grandchildren, every year Montgomery and his wife would invite all the grandchildren for a sleepover at their house on Halloween. These nights were filled with laughter and games, as Montgomery loved spending that time with his grandchildren.
Throughout Montgomery’s nearly seven decades of life, he earned many distinguished honors. In 2001, he received the honor of being named the support administrator of the year by the N.C. Association of Educators; he was a member of the first class of Leadership NC; a lifetime member of NC PTA; a member of the N.C. Association of School Administrators, American Association of Administrators, N.C. School Board Association, National School Board Association, Phi Delta Kappa, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development and National Association of Elementary and Secondary School Principals.
Montgomery was honored with the State Oak Leaf Award for Volunteers in School, named the State of North Carolina Outstanding Educator, a three year winner of the Service to Children Award in Guilford County, Outstanding Campbell University Alumni Award and received the National Rotary Paul Harris Award.
While working at Harrells, Montgomery was given the Crusader Spirit Award for dedication to educational excellence and spiritual leadership and the FFA Lifetime Achievement Award. The former educator also earned a lifetime membership to Mattamuskeet Senior Beta Club in Hyde County, a certificate of recognition for exemplary service and excellence in leadership under the N.C. ABC’s of Education, a district 17 outstanding educator, charter member of Mattamuskeet Foundation and lifetime membership in N.C. Congress of Parents and Teachers.
In addition to his wife, Montgomery is survived by his two sons, Lynnie Montgomery and Robbie Montgomery; two daughters, Margo Bowker and Ruth Ann Parker; 13 grandchildren, Victoria, Brittany, Cassidy and Caroline Montgomery, Adam, Jeana Grace, Jack and Gabriel Bowker, Mabel Rose, Magdalene and Matilda Parker and Laken and Drew Montgomery; his mother, Gladys Montgomery; and two brothers, Steve and Mark Montgomery.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.