Edward (Eddie) P. Montgomery, 69, of Hannibal, Mo., died at 9:47 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27, 2017, at his home. Funeral services will be at 3 p.m. Monday, Jan. 30, 2017, at the Smith Funeral Chapel, 2619 St. Mary’s Ave., Hannibal. Visitation will precede the service, beginning at 2 p.m. The Rev. Linda Spaun, Eddie’s sister-in-law, will officiate. Private burial will be at Grandview Burial Park.
Eddie was born Nov. 7, 1947, at the tail end of World War II, in Linz, Austria, the first child of Patrick Montgomery, a native of Hannibal, Mo., and Julia Hold Montgomery, who grew up in Mainz, Germany. When he was one year old, Eddie and his mother came to the United States, where they at first settled in with Pat’s mother, Myrtle Montgomery, at 323 Fulton Ave., in one of the few houses in the South Main Street area that is still standing following subsequent repeated flooding of that neighborhood.
Pat and Julia bought a two-bedroom house at 1210 Union Street when Eddie was still a toddler, and expanded it as the family grew. That is where Eddie lived until enlisting in the U.S. Air Force following his graduation from McCooey High School in May 1965.
Throughout his life he remained friends with Dennis Graham, a Union Street neighbor. Eddie, Dennis and Milton Martin were like the Three Musketeers during their school years. Dennis remembers they “camped out at night and ran all day,” and were often spoiled by Milton’s grandmother, Mrs. Della Martin, who would bring them food on trays while they watched TV at her house. “Eddie and Milton would buy baseball cards by the box (at Johann Wholesale) just to get one card. They would chew all of that gum.” Dennis estimated that their card collections numbered in the thousands.
Eddie spent many hours of his youth playing basketball and baseball in pickup games on the Stowell school playground. He attended Stowell School with his friends for several years, before his parents transferred him to Catholic school. He cherished his memories of growing up on the South Side, which was a community into itself: Grocery stores, a fire station, Owens Drug Store and many working class families. He was a paperboy for the Courier-Post, walking a route on the hills east of Fulton Avenue. He once cut his leg on a barbed wire fence, and then finished his route. When he arrived home, his snow boot was filled with blood. He also delivered newspapers to residences and businesses on South Main Street, collecting payments early each Saturday morning. Some tavern owners would tip him extra NOT to collect during early mornings, when they were sleeping in.
After basic training in San Antonio, Texas, Eddie was trained as a clerk. He was stationed at Glasco Air Force Base in Montana, not far from the Canada-U.S. Border, until the end of 1967. A mixup in his orders when the base closed caused a delay in his deployment to Vietnam, and by the time the situation was rectified, he didn’t have enough time left for the tour of duty. Consequently, he was transferred to Tyndell Air Force Base near Panama City, Fla., where he served out the remaining six months of his enlistment. He returned to his hometown of Hannibal in November 1968.
With his father’s influence he was able to obtain a job as a switchman for the CB&Q Railroad. This short-lived career opportunity came to an abrupt end when climbing on moving boxcars came in direct conflict with his preference for keeping his feet on the ground.
Soon thereafter he applied for and was hired as a fireman/engineer. He worked with and shared a close friendship with veteran CB&Q engineer Harley Cort. Eddie studied diligently during the subsequent winter, spring and summer in order to pass his “book of rules” test, qualifying him as a certified engineer. He worked in the capacity of engineer for nearly 25 years. Always preferring switch engine assignments to over-the road trips, he worked in the rail yards at Hannibal, West Quincy, North St. Louis in Missouri, and Keokuk and Burlington, Iowa. He often commuted by car to his work assignments in order to allow time at home with his family.
He worked at his craft until April 1992. While changing brake shoes on a switch engine in the yards at Keokuk, Iowa, he injured his back, which ultimately lead to his early retirement.
In the spring of 1969, his sister Madeline set him up on a blind date with her classmate, Mary Lou Spaun. On that date Mary Lou and Eddie went bowling, then to the Frost Top where they ordered mugs of root beer, brought to his car by a carhop. The tray attached to the partially opened car window. He subsequently rolled down the window, sending the mugs crashing to the parking lot. After a seven-month courtship, Eddie and Mary Lou were married on Halloween. He wore a brand new black suit that his mother helped him pick out, and Mary Lou wore a borrowed white mini dress. They marked their 47th wedding anniversary in 2016.
To this union three children were born: Brian Edward Montgomery, Marla Jean Montgomery Hernandez and Kathryn (Katy) Anne Montgomery Hough. They survive along with their spouses, Tara Lambert Montgomery, Carlos Hernandez and Joseph Hough.
Four grandchildren survive, each uniquely special in Eddie’s heart: Andy Hernandez, Gracie Hernandez, Reagan Hough and Jonah Hough.
Other survivors include two brothers, Eugene and Stephen Montgomery; and one sister, Madeline Summers.
He was preceded in death by one brother, Michael Montgomery; and by his parents.
Memorials may be made to the Little Light House in Tulsa, Okla., in care of Smith Funeral Home. Eddie’s 2 ½ year old grandson Jonah is a student at the school. The mission of the Little Light House is to glorify God by improving the quality of life for children with special needs, their families, and their communities. They accomplish this mission by providing tuition-free educational and therapeutic services to children with special needs ages birth to six. The LLH does not receive funding from government sources.