John Carter Montgomery, whom all of his classmates and most of his friends called “Cit” and his immediate family called “Jack”, died on June 7, 1948 at Walter Reed General Hospital after a protracted illness. Thus passed on a truly great character.
“Cit” was born in Kentucky, so very naturally from his earliest days he was interested in anything that had to do with horses, and nothing else in the Army or in business during his entire life quite took equal rank in his mind.
He entered West Point as a “Sep” with the Class of 1903. He became very naturally a leader and as such was sometimes in hot water, as was bound to happen to one of his energy when surrounded by the restrictions then placed about cadets. He was naturally a good student and could have graduated considerably above the middle of his class where his marks placed him had he devoted himself more assiduously to study. As a member of the old “F” Company crowd he probably received little encouragement from his associates to take life too seriously. However, where horses were concerned he always shone brilliantly, was considered the best horseman of his class, played on the polo team and rode in exhibitions.
He was assigned upon graduation to the 7th Cavalry, which became home to him from then on. He was married in 1907 to Virginia Lee, the daughter of the late General and Mrs. Fitzhugh Lee. She, her two sisters and two brothers were already identified with the 7th Cavalry and for years remained with it.
Even as a young lieutenant Cit began to make a name for himself as an officer. For eight years he served as a Second Lieutenant, as did all of his classmates in the Cavalry, which resulted in his being known only as an outstanding young officer almost until World War I.
His horsemanship always remained conspicuous and he was sent with the jumping team to the Olympic games in Sweden in 1912 and he played for the Army in International polo.
He was assigned as Inspector General of the 2nd Division in World War I, with which organization he went to France. He reached the grade of Lieutenant Colonel in that position and so remained until, due to extraordinary action and courage on the field of battle personally observed by General Pershing, he was promoted by the General to a colonelcy on the spot. No similar promotion on the battlefield was made by General Pershing during the war.
He became Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3, of the 1st Corps and later Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3, of the 1st Army, A.E.F., and Chief of Staff of the American Forces in Germany, with which he remained for many months after the Armistice, his entire family joining him in Germany.
For his services in World War I he was decorated with the D.S.M., with the rank of Chevalier of the Legion of Honor of France, and by the British and Belgian Governments.
Upon his return to this country he became a member of the General Staff and was assigned to the War Plans Division. After some years spent in Washington on such duty he asked for an assignment to the command of the 10th Cavalry at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, where he felt the climate would be beneficial to one of his children.
About this time Cit began, to experience a physical ailment which took many months to diagnose. Finally it was determined that he was suffering from ulcers of the stomach, and eventually retirement from active duty was inevitable.
With his usual courage and determination lie decided to make his life of value wherever he could overcome his physical disability, so, after being retired in 1926, he joined the then relatively young investment banking firm known as The First Boston Corporation. He soon was made a junior officer, later was made Vice-President of a subsidiary corporation as well, and then in due course became the Treasurer of the parent company. Later he was promoted to Financial Vice-President and Director, which position he held until his retirement at the age of sixty-five, necessitated by the Corporation’s plan of retirement for age. During his business career his corporation became the largest investment banking firm in America, which growth added to his own responsibilities immeasurably and so increased his work that his early physical troubles gradually returned. Although he suffered more than his business associates ever knew, his courage permitted no personal discomfort to interfere with his work or to show in his actions. At the time of his retirement he looked forward to a well-deserved rest to bring back his health, so, fortified by resolutions by his Board of Directors of regret on his retiring and a silver presentation piece from them as well, he moved to Alexandria, Virginia. There he purchased a fine old pre-revolutionary house near where generations of the Lees, his wife’s family, had lived. Surrounded by members of his own family he hoped to rest, get well and enjoy life. He took great delight in his young grandson, Fitzhugh Lee Parker, the son of his daughter Mrs. Lee Parker, who lived with them. He was happy that his eldest son, John Carter, Jr., had recovered from wounds received in the European Theater during World War II and was well established in business in San Francisco, and that his other son, Harry Lee, was finishing his college career after serving in the Army in the Pacific where he also was wounded. Another daughter, Mrs. Cesar Bertheau, was living near New York where her husband is president of a bank.
He was not spared to enjoy all of this. Soon after his retirement he was obliged to return to Walter Reed Hospital, for a long period of observation and treatment. He then spent a long weary time in a Boston hospital, where all of the doctors on his case thought he might be benefitted. Thereafter for a short period he seemed to be better, but again he was stricken and from this attack he never recovered.
Great as were his attainments that resulted in the heaviest of responsibilities being placed upon him during his life, and many as were the well-deserved honors which he received for all that he had done, the greatest exhibition of his mighty courage came at the end, for which he will ever be honored in our memory. He never gave up. He fought for his life to the very day of his death. No record of Cit Montgomery’s courage and kindly life can surpass that of his last days.
He was buried in Arlington Cemetery with full military honors. The services were attended by his wife and children and by many of his old friends from the Army and from business. The honorary pall bearers, who followed the caisson that bore his remains, were Secretary of State George C. Marshall, General Walter Grant, General John K. Herr, General James Lawton Collins, Colonel H. Parker Kuhn, Colonel James W. Riley and Colonel Howell M. Estes; and his classmates, General U. S. Grant, III, Colonel Levi G. Brown, Colonel George W. Cocheu, Colonel Charles B. Moore, Colonel Clark Lynn, Colonel Corbitt S. Hoffman and Colonel Allan M. Pope. Colonel Max Garber, also a classmate, having risen from a sick bed to attend, was present at the Chapel only.