Georgetown, KY – The name Montgomery Caf had an immediate ring for Paducah’s Wally and Gerry Montgomery, whose names now are prominently displayed on a plaque in Georgetown College’s dining hall – recognizing their generous gift that made cafeteria renovations possible.
Prior to the dedication at dinner, the Montgomerys spent all of Tuesday (Sept. 6) at their beloved alma mater, which will celebrate 225 years of Christian education in 2012. They had breakfast with the Student Government Association officers. At lunchtime, they visited with the 22 select President’s Ambassadors who represent the College and President Bill Crouch. And, the students began to understand the greater meaning of this common meeting place fondly called “The Caf” (short for cafeteria) from a couple that met in such a place here and went on to live purposeful lives.
“I loved hearing how they met here! The Montgomerys are so delightful,” said Kelsey Ach, a junior Sociology major from Nicholasville. “It’s great to actually meet such exceptional people who have contributed to our school.”
After the plaque was unveiled, Wally told students in the Montgomery Caf “you are what we hope for.” Gerry added, “you are leaders who are ready to go” out into the world.
Standing near the couple were recent graduates from Paducah who nodded knowingly. Brothers Martin Rains ’03, chief resident in Internal Medicine at the University of Kentucky Hospital, and Taylor Rains ’08, president of UK’s Student Bar Association, expressed undying gratitude for hand-written notes Wally Montgomery sent President Crouch before their acceptance to Georgetown. Taylor, who’s in his third year at UK Law School, said, “current students may not yet grasp it yet, but (the Montgomerys) truly meant their words. That’s part of their legacy.”
Caroline Hutson, a senior from Paducah, who (like the Raines brothers) has known the Montgomerys since she was a small child at church. “It means a lot to me to have both this Christian connection and ‘family’ connection,” she said. “They’re like grandparents to me – always checking up on me, sending me newspaper clippings.”
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Clearly throughout “their day” the two were moved by where these events unfolded – their caf. Wally Montgomery, Class of ’58, spotted Gerry Biggs ’59 his senior year in what was then the grill and asked her out. Their first date was to a cold, night football game and the gloveless Wally would put his fingers in her coat pocket. The rest was almost history, especially after one of Wally’s professors (Dr. George Redding) suggested he might not want to let her get away with the rhetorical, “When will there be another Gerry in your life?”
After Wally finished University of Louisville Medical School, the Montgomerys headed back to her hometown of Paducah where they would make a big impact – he as a surgeon, she as a two-term Paducah mayor at a time of downtown rebirth as “Quilt City, USA.” And, as part-owners of Paducah Bank, they have been able to give generously to Paducah’s Immanuel Baptist Church, many community projects, U of L and Georgetown College.
Wally, who could be speaking to all Georgetown alumni, said, “You become aware that you need to give back for things God allowed you to have.” Gerry added, “the Caf project came up and that was something that appealed to us.”
The Montgomerys also sent Georgetown College and Kappa Delta sorority both their daughters; and they are delighted that all three of their adult children are now in healthcare. Kathy Krause ’84 is changing careers and will become a nurse in Louisville, and former KD president Evelyn Jones ’85 is a Paducah dermatologist. Their son, David, went to Centre College and is now a Danville surgeon.
Wally was president of the Kentucky Medical Alliance for 10 years, was a Kentucky delegate with the American Medical Association 25 years, and served as a medical brigade commander in Iraq (Desert Storm). He’s currently on the Lourdes Hospital Foundation board and Paducah Community College foundation board.
Gerry started the Paducah Area Community Foundation (now West Kentucky Community Foundation) and still passionately serves the organization. She’s Vice Chair of the Lourdes Hospital board and she was recently elected deacon at their church where they both teach Sunday School.
Speaking for them both, Wally said, “We were prepared for a life that Georgetown College gave us.”