Cover photo for Walter Scott Montgomery Jr.'s Obituary
Walter Scott Montgomery Jr. Profile Photo
1929 Walter 2023

Walter Scott Montgomery Jr.

December 28, 1929 — October 4, 2023

Walter Scott Montgomery, Jr. December 28, 1929 – October 4, 2023 On Wednesday, October 4, 2023, Walter Scott Montgomery, Jr. passed away peacefully at home with his family. He was 93. Walter was a beloved husband, father to four and grandfather to fourteen. Walter was born December 28, 1929, to Rose Bailey Cornelson and Walter Scott Montgomery, Sr. in Spartanburg, South Carolina. He grew up with his parents and younger sister, Rose, in a family home on Main Street which ultimately became The Piedmont Club. Walter had fond memories of hanging his Christmas stocking on the lion’s teeth of the mantel in the front room and roller skating in the third-floor ballroom on rainy days. Walter attended Pine Street Elementary School and Christ School in Arden, North Carolina for his high school years. During this time, he was a Boy Scout and achieved the rank of Eagle Scout. He attended the International Jamboree on the Rothschild Estate in France in 1947. He recalled many fond memories of this travel and how eye-opening it was to see Europe in the aftermath of World War II. In 1947, Walter graduated from Christ School and went on to attend The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was a member of Kappa Sigma fraternity and made many lifelong friendships. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1951 and enrolled in Harvard Business School. Upon graduation from HBS, Walter entered the United States Army and served as a Lieutenant at Fort Pendleton and Fort Stewart. In 1955 Walter began his 50-year career with Spartan Mills, the family business, in New York City where he headed the sales office for fourteen years. He returned home in 1971 to become President of Spartan Mills, eventually growing the company to over 5,000 employees, the largest employer in Spartanburg County at that time. He had the great pleasure of working with his father during much of this time, and it was then that Walter, originally born Walter Scott Montgomery III, became Walter Jr. and his father Walter Sr. Upon moving back to Spartanburg, Walter became involved in the community and served on the Board of Trustees of Converse College. It was there that he met Betty Brooks James who was president of her class and would become the love of his life. Two years later, they were married in Betty’s hometown of Hamlet, North Carolina on August 5, 1972, the hottest day on record. Betty and Walter moved to the country where they enjoyed raising their family along with a herd of cows, some horses and chickens. Weekly horseback rides or hiking on trails with children in tow, Walter loved being in the country and out in nature. One of Walter’s greatest joys in recent years was watching Betty turn the woods into a woodland garden. Evening rides through the garden were a highlight of every week. As a young couple Betty and Walter were busy with work, travel and volunteerism. In addition to his role as President of Spartan Mills, Walter was invested in the Spartanburg community, taking leadership positions in various educational and civic organizations, as well as giving generously to his community. He served on the Board of Trustees of Converse College, the vestry of The Church of the Advent, and chair of the Spartanburg County Foundation. Walter was loyal to Christ School in Arden, NC and served on the board for over 50 years. He was a member and served as chairman of the South Carolina Textile Manufacturers Association. He was admired for his business acumen and served on the boards of Barclays American Bank, South Carolina National Bank, Allendale Insurance and Piedmont Natural Gas. Additionally, he served on the Palmetto Business Forum. A pivotal event took place on the night of March 4, 1984, when a helicopter carrying Roger Milliken, George Dean Johnson, Dick Pennell, John Hamrick and Walter crashed on a return trip from the Palmetto Business Forum in Columbia. Fortunately, everyone survived, and Walter, given his new lease on life, decided that he wanted to take his young family on an annual adventure to a far off place they might otherwise have never experienced. These trips provided quality time with his children and an opportunity to share his love for travel. Walter’s great love for travel began at age 16 when he, cousin George Cornelson and friend Stanley Converse boarded a train from Spartanburg, SC to New Orleans, and then headed across the bay on a steamer to Cuba. The three of them explored Cuba for a month together and enjoyed learning the ins and outs of a different country and its culture. Eleven years later in 1956, Walter bought an around-the-world plane ticket. This was nearly unheard of in ’56 and Walter made the most of his year long trip venturing to countries all over the world visiting textile mills to learn how they differed from the ones in the United States. His travels took him to Europe, Africa and Asia; he visited remote areas in countries where few had ever encountered Americans. A great deal of time during this trip was spent in China, India and Pakistan. Ahead of each stop he would write a letter to the different textile companies introducing himself and his wish to visit. As he traveled from mill to mill, country to country, he would take in the culture of each place and occasionally he found a spot or two to cast a flyrod. Along the way he made lifelong friends. During this time, he diligently wrote letters back home to his parents. They have been bound together in a book that the family has enjoyed reading and learning of his adventurous spirit. When asked what was the most important thing he learned from these travels, he said that while the other countries had cheaper labor, the United States had cheaper energy and capitalism and that kept our country viable. A bachelor until he was 42 years old, Walter traveled to Greece each summer for 20 years with a close group of friends he met through textiles and his year of travel. In 2005 Walter once again sailed the waters of Greece, a summer tradition he shared with his family and friends until 2022 when he was 92. During these latter years he also enjoyed traveling to rural parts of China, Mongolia, Burma (Myamar), Papua New Guinea and India. In addition to travel, Walter enjoyed fly fishing, wing shooting, horseback riding, scuba diving and snow skiing. Most of all, he enjoyed spending time at his beloved Lake Summit where he summered his whole life. A dedicated family man, he was never happier than being at Lake Summit with his extended family across multiple generations. Walter was a member of The University Club and The Anglers Club of New York City; The Piedmont Club and the Spectators Club in Spartanburg and The Lintheads. He was awarded the Daniel Morgan Award from the United Way of the Piedmont and received a doctorate of laws from Converse University. Walter will be dearly missed and is survived by his wife, Betty, of 51 years, and his four children: Edward and Lillian Montgomery Lilly, Scott and Laura Montgomery, Will and Brelan Montgomery, John and Belle Montgomery and his fourteen grandchildren: Ward, James, Collier and David Lilly; Jane, Walter and Henry Montgomery; William, Sam and Herschell Montgomery; Gibbes, Lucille, Phoebe and Worth Montgomery. He is also survived by his sister Rose Montgomery Johnston. Thank you to Dr. David Ike and Dr. Jerry Hull for the wonderful care and friendship they have given to Walter. Thank you to Ann Hayes for her loving care and friendship over many years, especially these last few months. Visitation will be Friday, October 6, 2023 from 2:00-5:00pm at the home of John and Belle Montgomery, 1150 Woodburn Road, Spartanburg, SC 29302. A memorial service will be held at The Episcopal Church of the Advent on Sunday, October 8th at 4:00pm. In lieu of flowers the family asks that memorial gifts be made to Christ School, 500 Christ School Road, Arden, North Carolina 28704; or The Episcopal Church of the Advent Foundation, 141 Advent Street, Spartanburg, South Carolina 29302. Condolences may be expressed to family online at www.jmdunbar.com
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Service Schedule

Past Services

Visitation

Friday, October 6, 2023

2:00 - 5:00 pm (Eastern time)

Home of John and Belle Montgomery

1150 Woodburn Road, Spartanburg, SC 29302

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Memorial Service

Sunday, October 8, 2023

Starts at 4:00 pm (Eastern time)

the Episcopal Church of the Advent

141 Advent Street, Spartanburg, SC 29302

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