2017-06-16 / Front Page

We Remember... the man who started it all

A Father’s Day Story
By Warner M. Montgomery and Mimi M. Maddock

W. Miller Montgomery, always a gentleman, holds coats for the ladies. W. Miller Montgomery, always a gentleman, holds coats for the ladies. This story appeared in The Star Reporter May 9, 1996, after W. Miller Montgomery’s death May 1.

Our father was a good man. He was a kind and loving person.

He loved Greeleyville—the blinking yellow light where you turn to go to Pawley’s. Between Manning and Andrews. To us Greeleyville was a mythical place where Daddy and all his Tom Sawyer friends grew up. It was a place full of cousins, cotton fields, swimming holes, and athletes, one of whom should have been All-American but was too poor to finish college.

Greeleyville was where he grew up running between the Drug Store, The Bank, The Church, and The Mayor’s Office dodging Aunt Minnie and Uncle Bun. It was where he rode with his father on his mail route, smoked his first cigarette, earned his first penny, and dated his first cousin.

W. Miller Montgomery, founder of The Star Reporter, now The Columbia Star W. Miller Montgomery, founder of The Star Reporter, now The Columbia Star In recent years, at Daddy’s urging, we all piled in our van and headed to Greeleyville for Flag Day. After meeting Cousin Sam Clarkson, we would watch the parade, eat BBQ and boiled peanuts then ride around town as Daddy pointed out every house he ever lived in.

Strangely enough, most of them had burned down, but each reminded him of a story, each one we had heard hundreds of times.

Daddy loved Presbyterian College. He followed his brother, John A. there. It was his first time away from home. Every event that happened during his two years at P.C. was etched in his memory and was easily recalled such as playing football on a $50 scholarship.

He loved Carolina, and he told the obligatory jokes about Clemson until his nephews started attending the school. He had to drop out of Carolina periodically during the depression years. It was at this time he lived off sardines and boiled peanuts and started working at The State Company as a printer’s apprentice.

W. Miller Montgomery pasting up The Star Reporter. W. Miller Montgomery pasting up The Star Reporter. He was a loyal alumnus and for the past ten years of his life or so, a loyal Centurion. He bought season tickets to the football games, and every year he and Mama went to the Centurion Ball.

He loved St. John’s Episcopal Church. When he and Mama decided to get married in 1938, he had to leave his beloved predestined, kiltish ways and convert to the church of the king.

Daddy loved Mary Palmer Gourdin. They were only apart one week in their 54 years of marriage.

Their first home was on Harden Street, and St. John’s was just a stroll away. He became a member of the vestry and made sure we went to Sunday School, were confirmed, and played on the basketball teams.

He and Mama had their own special pew where they sat every Sunday morning. Daddy was a faithful member of the Men’s Club and recently he joined the Keenagers so he could keep up with his old friends.

Daddy loved the Kiwanis Club and would talk about recruiting so and so.

Daddy loved The Star Reporter. It was the idea of Mr. and Mrs. Harold Booker, and he helped launch it in 1963. After Mr. Booker died and Mrs. Booker retired, we joined Daddy at The Star Reporter on Santee Avenue.

Every morning Daddy picked up the mail at the main post office where he would meet his old cronies and share gossip. At exactly noon, he would go home for lunch and a nap. During the afternoon, he ran the office like a benevolent dictator. Then at exactly five to five o’clock, he would say, “Well, I guess I’ve done as much damage as I can do today,” and he would leave.

He never talked about retiring. He always said, “If I slow down, I’ll die.” He worked every day taking vacations only when forced.

On February 19, 1996, he was rushed to the hospital. He never returned to the office, but we held several of our weekly meetings in his hospital room. The week before he died, he was still making sure Mimi had a good front page, Warner got the report to the post office, and that all our bills were paid.

Daddy believed in family. His wife, his children, and his grandchildren were his life. He never preached to us, but he exemplified old-fashioned honesty and responsibility in such a way we could never forget.

To him, happiness and security were more important than wealth and fame. His bank account was filled with more warm and humorous stories than cash. But like he said, “They can’t tax friendship and love.”

Daddy loved his brother, John A. They spent hours and hours together every week eating cookies, drinking milk, and talking about Greeleyville, PC, and the newspaper business. John A. was editor of The Record. John A.’s family was our family. Aunt Lottie (his wife) was our second mother and Al, Carter, and Carole (his children), our brothers and sister.

Most of all, Daddy loved life. He laughed at funny stories over and over again. He never made fun of people or took advantage of anyone. He made people feel good. He made friends and kept them.

When Mama died in 1992, Daddy really loosened up. After one year and one day, he had a date. We sent him on a tour of Israel.

Once he went on a trip to Atlanta with Warner and Linda, squatted on the floor at a Moroccan restaurant and watched the belly dancer asking, “Where are we going next?”

His 80th surprise birthday party was a blast. People brought memories of him as presents. That’s when Muriel Aldrich’s memory was a future one, asking him out to dinner. That was the beginning of their relationship.

On Halloween, Daddy and Muriel went to a costume party at the Senior Center as Hootie and the Blowfish.

On March 29, 1996, Daddy and Muriel’s relationship was blessed by the church. Rev. Ron Taylor came to Manor Care where Daddy was and performed the ceremony in the presence of our family.

Daddy’s gone now, but he left us a legacy of love and happiness and this newspaper you are reading.

His last act was to stand and begin his exercise walk, but his heart couldn’t support his failing lungs anymore.

Daddy was a good man, an honest man, a loving man...a true gentleman.

We miss him. We know many others do, too.

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