The lose of a gentleman – George Montgomery:
George Montgomery, Life Member of Athletics NI, passed away on Wednesday 19th November 2014.
The death of the popular and highly respected official George Montgomery this week was perhaps not unexpected by those who have kept in touch during his most recent illness but it was by no means inevitable. Lesser men would have succumbed long ago but George was a fighter who refused to let minor issues like illness and incapacity get in the way of his love of life.
Judging by the immediate and overwhelming response to his passing on social media from many parts of the world George was held in great esteem by many over a wide age range. Not surprisingly many of the most heartfelt comments came from the ladies for whom George always had a special appeal.
“He was a lovely caring and considerate man. Gave everyone 100% support”, “George was one of the best. Always had a smile and a great big hug for me. He was team manager of my first senior team – a fact he never forgot” – “George was one of the finest gents in athletics, so sad to hear this” are just a few of the comments which appeared within hours of the news.
For the majority of those currently involved in the sport George was known as a caring team manager, a hardworking club administrator, a dedicated official often standing on the timekeepers steps, sometimes in the field or keeping a watchful eye on all proceedings in his capacity as Chief Judge. His contribution as an official was officially recognised when he was presented with the Services to Officiating Award by Niels de Vos of UKA in 2009.
Sadly there are few contemporaries remaining who remember the man in his prime as an athlete with the Albert Foundry Athletics Club based at Paisley Park on Belfast’s West Circular Road. Neither the club, which numbered Dame Mary Peters among its membership, nor the cinders track which opened in 1949 exist today but in George’s era the Foundry was a force to be reckoned with winning bronze medals in the 1947 Senior Cross Country and the Junior in 1950 and 1952. George played a significant role in the opening of the track in 1949 winning the One Mile Flat Handicap and twenty years later he was an official at the same venue when Kenya’s Kip Keino ran the first ever sub four minute mile in Northern Ireland.
In recent years George suffered more than his fair share of illness and catastrophe but he kept bouncing back. He lived life to the full enjoying his travels and somehow surviving the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”. In an unrelated post on Twitter this morning someone said “Whatever opportunity comes your way today, seize it. Life comes with an expiry date, sooner than you know.” George certainly seized his opportunities.
John T Glover