Meridian Star

Local News

May 12, 2006

Memorial service Tuesday

MERIDIAN — He had the ear of presidents, prime ministers and kings, and he captured the hearts of the people he represented along the way.

Retired U.S. Rep. Gillespie V. “Sonny” Montgomery, 85, of Meridian, who represented Mississippi’s 3rd District in Congress as a conservative Democrat for 15 terms, died Friday morning at Jeff Anderson Regional Medical Center.

Visitation will be held Monday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the main aircraft hangar of the 186th Air Refueling Wing of the Mississippi Air National Guard at Key Field. Those attending are asked to enter through the 65th Avenue gate.

A public memorial service will be held Tuesday at 2 p.m. in the Temple Theatre in downtown Meridian, followed by burial in Magnolia Cemetery.

Montgomery often said he considered his greatest legacy to be his love of people.

“As I look back in life, I’ve always been very fond of people,” Montgomery said during a 2004 interview. “The fact that I like people has made it a lot easier for me. I like people from all walks of life. I could relate to different people.”

His love of people showed in his work, a long career of public service, which included 30 years in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Montgomery G.I. Bill, which he authored, has provided college financial assistance to more than 2 million veterans. The bill revamped the original G.I. Bill passed shortly after World War II, extending benefits to soldiers, including those who served in the National Guard.

Montgomery worked to strengthen Reserve and National Guard forces and to provide veterans with better health care, low-income home loans and educational opportunities. He also fought tirelessly to keep military bases safe from closure in Mississippi.

He asked his constituents for their opinions on the issues, and more important, listened to them when they spoke. He also campaigned even when he didn’t have competition.

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