KINGSPORT — Former Tennessee state Sen. Ruth C. Montgomery, also a former Kingsport mayor, state representative and Sullivan County commissioner, passed away at her home on Thursday. She was 92.
“She was just a wonderful, gracious dignified outgoing person who loved Kingsport,” Mayor Pat Shull said of Montgomery, a Republican. “She served in a variety of positions. She was known for her attention to detail and integrity, her good will. When you’re in politics, you can get in fights with people, but that wasn’t her. She had the ability to get along and be productive.”
U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, served with Montgomery when he was governor.
“Ruth Montgomery was a member of the Tennessee General Assembly during several of its most productive years,” Alexander said. “She helped to enact the Better Schools Program, rewarding outstanding teaching and three road programs that paid for the Quad City Beltway, a new system of four-lane highways in Upper East Tennessee. Ruth was effective, polite and widely respected by her colleagues. Honey and I join in sending to her family our great respect for her life.”
State Rep. Bud Hulsey, R-Kingsport, called Montgomery “an incredible lady.”
“She showed a great deal of intrinsic leadership,” Hulsey said. “She proved that in so many facets, not just at the state legislature but in city government and her personal life. I hate to lose her. My heart goes out to her family.”
Said state Sen. Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol: “(Montgomery) was always stately, graceful and dignified.”
Miles Burdine, president and CEO of the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce, held a moment of silence for the late Pal’s Sudden Service founder Pal Barger and Montgomery during the State of the City address Friday morning at the MeadowView Conference Resort and Convention Center.
“Both of those people were absolutely amazing individuals who dedicated their lives to serving others, who made many positive things happen for all of us,” Burdine said. “They loved this place and Kingsport loved them back.”
In 1972, Montgomery was elected to the Sullivan County Quarterly Court, now the Sullivan County Commission. During her eight years there, she served as chair of the Executive Committee and the Sullivan County Youth Home. In 1980, she was elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives, where she represented the Kingsport area for four terms. She served as assistant House minority leader. In 1988, she was elected to a term in the Tennessee Senate, where she represented Sullivan County. While in the Senate, she served as secretary of the Health and Welfare Committee and as a member of the Rules Committee and the Fiscal Review Committee. After her retirement from the General Assembly, Montgomery was elected mayor of Kingsport. She served two terms and retired from public service in 1999.
Montgomery was a member of the Sullivan County Republican Women, League of Women Voters, an auxiliary to the American Dental Association, an associate member of the Tennessee Dental Association, an outstanding member of the East Tennessee State University Alumni Association and board member of Holston Valley Health Care Inc.
She was a past president of Kingsport Tomorrow and was a member of the first class of Leadership Kingsport. She was active in the Rotary Club of Kingsport and the Kingsport Garden Club. She was a member of First Broad Street United Methodist Church.
Montgomery is survived by her two sons, Judge Robert H. Montgomery Jr., and wife, Jamie, and their son, Andrew; and Dr. Randall C. Montgomery and wife, Amy, and their son, Alex, all of Kingsport, and several nieces and nephews.