Seventeen members of the extended Montgomery family traveled from across the country to celebrate the life and legacy of Mollie Montgomery ’60 (1937-2023), who grew up on campus.
Mollie was the only child of Ruth Kelley Montgomery and Robert “Doc Bob” Montgomery, who was Muskingum’s longest serving President (1932-1962). She was the granddaughter of J. Knox Montgomery, who established the University’s footprint during his Presidency (1904-1931).
While earning her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology, Mollie was a majorette, a Kianu, and active in multiple clubs. After graduation, she became a special education teacher, and later dedicated herself to raising her family in Darnestown, Maryland, where she helped run the family VAL-PAK business and volunteered in her church and community. In later life, she settled in the Pacific Northwest to be close to her daughters, where she remained active in church life.
Her global curiosity, love of travel, and sense of adventure was instilled while Mollie was a Muskingum student, as she and her parents journeyed around the world in 80 days. She continued to travel throughout her life, with her children and grandchildren, and on church mission trips. Mollie visited Muskingum’s campus in 2017, when her mother Ruth Montgomery was named a “Remarkable Woman of the Past” by the John and Annie Glenn Museum.
Mollie’s children, Debbie Brunner, Jeff Brunner, Susan Briddell, and Julie Brunner organized the family trip to celebrate her life at Brown Chapel and inter her ashes in the Muskingum Columbarium on August 5, 2023. All of Mollie’s children, their spouses, her eight grandchildren, and a grandchild’s spouse gathered on campus, traveling from the Pacific Northwest, Colorado, and Florida. They were joined for the Celebration of Life by several of Mollie’s cousins, including Trustee Emeritus Barry Montgomery ’59, and close friends.
Muskingum President Susan S. Hasseler hosted the Montgomery family’s visit and offered reflections during the interment ceremony. She led the group on campus tours, along with Admissions Counselor Zoey Stenson ’21, who shares Mollie’s Kianu legacy. A scrapbook of archive and yearbook photos of Mollie and other Montgomery family members was presented to her children.
“It was very meaningful to bring all of the grandchildren to the place where Mollie grew up,” Debbie said. “We loved touring campus and seeing so many reminders of the commitment to higher education made by earlier generations of our family, including Montgomery Hall, the Montgomery Fountain, Patton Hall – named for my great-grandmother Emma Patton Montgomery, and Kelley Hall – named for my grandmother Ruth Kelley Montgomery.”
“Touring my grandparents’ former home on Lakeside Drive, which is now home to Muskingum’s Master of Occupational Therapy program, brought back so many great memories,” Debbie recalled. “My siblings and I visited there often as we were growing up, and I spent several summers there. My grandfather Bob built the house in 1962 with accessibility features to support my grandmother Ruth, which was very unusual in those days, and she lived there successfully until 1995. My grandmother would be very happy that it is now a place where students learn to support others in daily living.”
“I also had the chance to take several walks through the campus and spend time at the Spoon Holder, the Hollow, and other special spots that I remembered from my childhood visits and which meant so much to my mother,” she added.
“Muskingum is a place that honors its history and its people, but it does not live in the past” Debbie said, “It was especially wonderful to see the beautiful new buildings and to learn about how the University changes with the times and prepares today’s students for their futures. Muskingum has a very special place in my heart and in our family.”