From The Olio
ROGER EDMUND MONTGOMERY
4320 Woodside Ave., Minneapolis, Minnesota
Prepared at St. Loius Park Senior High School
Roger Edmund Montgomery''62 died June 12, 1987.
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From Our Reunion Book
I did not know Roger very well before junior year. He came to Amherst from St. Louis Park High School in Minnesota with a commendable record of achievement, similar to most of our class. Junior year he was rooming at Kappa Theta with my dear friend Charlie Marsden. We were both taking Junior Honors in History. By chance, we both decided to study at the west end of the Converse Library reading room. When the library closed, we would frequently walk “up to the Hill” together.
Roger and I had the same thesis advisor, Prof. John Gagliardo, a committed scholar and a real task master. Gagliardo had suggested we write our Junior Honors Paper, and eventually our thesis, on a German “publicists” he found interesting. Roger was writing on Jacob Arndt. I was writing on another guy from Osnabruck, Germany, whose name I cannot remember for the life of me. It may be “halfheimers,” or it might just be my distaste for reading all that stuff in German. Roger, possibly better at German thanks to his AFS experience in Austria, was much more inclined than I to persevere in a not altogether agreeable task. He tackled it with determination, and read about fourteen volumes of Arndt’s writings in German. I threw in the towel after one or two volumes read for my Junior Honors Paper, and pleaded for another thesis topic. Roger persevered! That was Roger. He was small in stature, but he had high expectations for himself, and he got bigger the longer I knew him. He became a true friend. I came to be certain that he was someone I would “want in my foxhole.”
Roger had a lifelong interest in music. When I was not looking, Roger’s primary extracurricular activity at Amherst was the Glee Club. My exposure to the Glee Club was limited to attending some very excellent concert performances.
I believe it was the Saturday of an away game at Williams during our senior year that the Law Boards were administered. When it was over, Roger and I commiserated on our lost weekend. We decided Valentine was not adequate compensation for our pain and suffering. A pitcher of beer and loaf of garlic bread at a pizza place down the hill from Phi Gam was compelling. Roger and I, and about 25 of our classmates, must have done OK on the Law Boards. We all were admitted to Harvard Law. It would never happen today. Roger, and a group that became mutual friends at Harvard, were assigned rooms in Story Hall. I drew a short straw. No dorm room for you! I found a room in a private house a few blocks away. At mid semester someone vacated and I joined Roger and other friends on the second floor of Story Hall for the next year and a half. Long enough to share more than a few “five minutes till closing” bedtime beers in the adjoining Law School Commons (Knickerbocker or Carlings—what a choice) and regular Sunday night beer and pizza at an emporium a few blocks up Mass Ave.
For reasons I do not fully recall, Roger and I both decided to sign up for Army ROTC at Harvard. At that time Harvard still understood that Harvard men should have a stake in supporting the American military and the defense of the country. I know I had made the decision to enroll in ROTC at Harvard before leaving Amherst. I do not know what led Roger to the same choice. There were exactly three first year students at the Law School who signed up for ROTC. We were a distinct minority. I remember polishing shoes and brass together on Sunday nights and walking the length of Langdell Hall in uniform to Monday drills. Roger’s erect posture and slightly mechanical gait made him a natural for a military uniform. You better believe we took strength from each other’s company, but I’m not sure we mastered the disassembly and reassembly of the Army’s “Rubix Cube”, otherwise known as an M-1.
Apart from ROTC, Roger and I were in the same study group. I do not know if there were any bad study groups, but ours was more than functional. It was fun, and it was stimulating. We would doubtless have survived on our own as individuals, but I have no doubt each of us did better because of the insights gained from the others in the group.
After graduation from law school, Roger joined his father’s law firm, Richards, Montgomery, Cobb & Bassford, in Minneapolis in 1965. He took pride in being the third generation of his family to practice law in Minneapolis. Our mutual friend, Hap LeVander (St Olaf’s Class of 62) returned to St Paul to practice, and remained in close contact with Roger. In 1968 Roger was named Special Assistant Attorney General and the first head of the Anti-Trust division for the State of Minnesota. In 1971 Roger joined Pillsbury Co. as Senior Attorney. In 1981 he became Assistant General Counsel of the Pickwick Music Co. Subsequently he joined the legal department of the John Morell Company in Chicago, as Senior Staff Division Attorney. In 1984 he returned to private practice in Minneapolis.
Roger was active in community and professional organizations. He was President of the Amherst Alumni Association of Minneapolis and was active in the Harvard Law School Club. He was a member of the Minnesota State Bar Association and Chair of its Corporate Counsel Section. He was a member of the Board of Stewards of the Plymouth Congregational Church.
Roger married his wife Diane relatively late. He was very close to Diane’s son Thomas, and was committed to being a good father to him. Roger and I spoke at length about that relationship of an evening together over yet another “night cap” beer at an emporium on the Hamp road in Amherst. I do not remember the date, but I think it was most likely Homecoming weekend before our 25threunion. It seemed he had found something in his marriage and his step-son to which he was very much committed.
In June 1987, I received a call from our friend Hap LeVander to tell me of Roger’s untimely and unfortunate passing at the age of 47. Way too young! I never saw it coming. Being closer geographically, Hap had some concerns which caused him to drive across the metropolitan area to St Louis Park to check on Roger. Too late it turned out. Hap remembered that Roger had lost his parents shortly before taking his own life, but we all deal with that reality. However close you may be to a situation where a good, intelligent, energetic and capable person succumbs to depression or the stresses of life, there is no satisfactory explanation. Twenty-five years later, I wish Roger and I could go for another of those night cap beers, even knowing full well it would now result in a 3:30 AM trip to the “head”.---David E. "Skip" Friedrich '62