John Montgomery, 82, Was Veteran, Attorney
John Montgomery died peacefully after a short illness on July 16. He was 82 years old. He was born in Passaic, N.J., on Feb. 18, 1921. He was the middle child of three, including his older brother, Robert, and his younger sister, Jacqueline. He attended Montclair High School before attending Princeton University beginning in the fall of 1939.
John was in his junior year of college at the time of Pearl Harbor. He left college soon thereafter to enter the United States Army Air Corps where he rose to the rank of captain in the Air Corps. He initially served as a machine gunner on a Douglas Dauntless, a two-man fighter-bomber. After the Air Corps phased out the plane, John was transferred to a flight control assignment. While serving at Logan Airport he met Gloria Jones, who was a meteorological observer. They fell in love and were married in 1946. They had one son, John 3rd, in 1950, who is now a lawyer in Portland, Me. Gloria died, in Edgartown, in 1995.
After his discharge from the military, John entered Harvard Law School, which he completed in the spring of 1948 on an accelerated basis after only two and a half years. He then passed the New York State bar and began working in New York city. Because of his aviation experience, he became an associate at the firm of Condon and Forsythe, which was then, and remains today, one of the leading aviation law firms in the United States. He stayed at Condon and Forsythe for almost 20 years. During that period he represented a number of leading air carriers, including British Overseas Airways Corporation (predecessor to British Air), Quantas, BWIA, British European Airways and others. His assignments were varied and included the negotiation of leases at Idlewild (now Kennedy) Airport and the litigation of numerous complex air disaster cases. The practice was not without its adventures, including being chased by a bull in a remote field in Scotland while accompanying investigators at an accident site.
In 1969 John and Gloria moved to Martha's Vineyard, where they had vacationed for many years, and John became a country lawyer. He initially practiced with Judge James Boyle, but later associated with other attorneys on the Island. Throughout those years his practice remained varied and active. He has served on the board of the Martha's Vineyard National Bank for 20 years, and at various times was counsel for the towns of Chilmark and Vineyard Haven. He retired from the practice of law in June 2002, after 53 years as an attorney, to move to South Freeport, Me., to be close to his family.
Throughout his life, John has had a deep interest in music. As a teenager, he was a skilled pianist who performed frequently and who considered a professional career until he broke his thumbs while wrestling in college. His love for music remained throughout his life and gave him great comfort in the last days. For several years he shared his skills as organist for the Chilmark Community Church on Martha's Vineyard. John was also a passionate photographer for many years and his photographs have appeared in the Martha's Vineyard Gazette and in some of its publications. After moving to Maine, be began to experiment with digital photography and continued his photography even after the onset of his illness this spring.
He is survived by his son, Jack; his daughter in law, Deede; his beloved grandchildren, Molly, Lily and Grace, of South Freeport, Me.; his brother, Robert, and numerous nieces and nephews.
A service of celebration and music will be held at the South Freeport Church at 1 p.m. on Sunday, July 20. A further celebration will be held on the Island in September. He will be interred alongside Gloria at the Abel's Hill Cemetery in Chilmark. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions in his name to the Vineyard Nursing Association, P.O. Box 2568, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557.