Thursday, July 21, 2011

Donald Eugene Montgomery

Powshiek County, Iowa to Alamosa, Colorado

Donnie,right, with brother Marvin (Bud) around 1934

My father died recently. We were on very loving terms and I will miss him- especially the recollections of him in healthier times. I feel the need to write about it and so thought the blog would be a good spot for that. So if you think this is yet another tribute to a departed parent- well you’d be right on!

I have heard several versions of the following sentiment and it goes something like this......
..... when I reached my early teens, I realized that my father was a barely- functioning idiot, lacking in manners and higher knowledge that was present in most other people and especially myself at the time. I was soon amazed at how fast he learned so much in just a few short years to become a man of knowledge and common sense. By my 20's he had miraculously acquired a storehouse of wisdom that I was more than happy to tap into. I asked him about the secret of how he got so smart so rapidly but he never told me…….

My dad died at 83 after succumbing to Parkinson's disease. If one were to need worldly proof of the existence of Satan look no further than this disease. It chipped away at them like a cruel chisel against soft stone.
I won't belabor the details but we watched him diminish plateau down to lower plateaus. His associated dementia took him away bit by bit so that when he did die I, for one, thought it was a blessing.
I believe now that he is all together again after gathering up all the pieces that have been scattered over the past couple of years.

My father gifted me in so many ways that I will have to pare it down to just the biggies.

There are two gifts that I will mention on later blogs. One is the gift of humor and the other is the gift of music. For now I will deal with two other legacies.

Dad took us out to the prairies, the mountains, lakes, streams and ponds as he taught us to carry on the tradition of how he was raised back in Iowa- the hunting and fishing tradition.
The early and repetitive journeys, many with questionable levels of comfort, instilled in me a deep love and appreciation for the natural world.
Many years later, when I took up the banner of habitat protection, especially promoting for large tracts of wilderness, we would have heated arguments because his philosophy was much more, shall we say, utilitarian.
In those moments I would remind him that it was all his fault for raising me to love the wild.
I've often thought that many a hunter cradles a gun in their arms as a cover-up for the delight of simply walking upon the wild Earth and relishing in crisp morning air.

Thanks, Dad.

Dad, 3rd from the left, singing bass in the barbershop quartet around 1980

My father also gifted me in a way I did not realize until his recent passing. I tried to root out a steady theme in his life, the thing that bolstered him and set his daily course.

Dad was not a scholar, a dweller of philosophies. The teachings of Christ were the blueprint for him. He was not evangelical or preachy.
I think back now about people with exuberant speeches and convoluted reasonings espousing Christianity who in reality practiced very little of the teachings of Christ. They were and are clever, self -righteous, dark imposters.

Of course Dad would get all worked up over political big-picture items and was quick to condemn people with other viewpoints (I never do that) but those attitudes vanished when he was dealing directly with people. He was an example of the embodiment of one of the prime teachings, love thy neighbor.
Through his profession and his public service he was all about helping people regardless of their size, shape or color.
Unpretentious, humorous, generous- he led with an Open Heart. He walked the talk.

He showed me the model of action that matches your convictions. I aspire to be a proud son by emulating that. I hope I do.

Thanks Dad.


  1. this is a lovely tribute to your father, thank you for sharing...

  2. I came across your blog while searching for the name of a particular hollyhock, whose seed I gathered from a house that was for sale nearby. Then I realized you are a painter, and your work is very nice. I paint, too, plein air and studio. Finally, here, I have read your tribute to your father, and I am touched by your description of his Christian walk. I am a Christian, too, and I would love to have someone say such things about me, but they would have to forget about all the times I have failed. Isn't it interesting how far a little search on the internet can take one. Thanks, and happy painting.