Edith Montague, reared about 300 children

September 10, 1993|By Gregory P. Kane | Gregory P. Kane,Staff Writer

Edith Spriggs Montague, a Baltimore-born hotel chambermaid whose descendants outnumber her years, died of natural causes Aug. 21 at the Atlantic City Medical Center in New Jersey. She was 95.

Known as "Nannie" or "Miss Tucker" to relatives and friends, the former Edith Spriggs was reared in Baltimore and moved to Atlantic City in 1922 with her husband, Joseph N. Montague, whom she married in 1918. She worked as a chambermaid at the old Runnymede Hotel and as a household employee of resort police Sgt. Ed Pepper.

Her last job before retirement in 1975 was at the Lambert Ice Cream Parlor, where she worked for 20 years as a waitress and fountain attendant.

She was a member of Baltimore's John Wesley African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, in the 1900 block of Ashland Ave., before she moved.

Mrs. Montague "raised and cared for over 300 children and families," according to her granddaughter, Barbara Woodall of Atlantic City.

"My grandmother raised all six of her grandchildren. When we were grown and had kids, she would care for them while we went to work. She did the same when her great-grandchildren had children."

Mrs. Montague's love of child-rearing extended beyond her immediate family.

"After she retired from working at the ice cream parlor, she would do the same for neighborhood kids," Ms. Woodall said.

She also helped adults in need. Ms. Woodall recalls her grandmother giving "clothing, food and shelter" to struggling neighbors.

"She was one of those people who wouldn't see anyone want for anything," Ms. Woodall said.

When Atlantic City elected James L. Usry its first black mayor in 1983, Mrs. Montague was on hand as one of his oldest campaign workers -- if not the oldest.

The third of five children born to James and Carrie Spriggs, Mrs. Montague was a self-taught musician, able to play the piano, organ, flute and harmonica.

"She was doing that since before I was born," said Ms. Woodall. "Ever since I could remember she would pick up the harmonica or flute and just play it. We bought her an organ, and she did the same thing."

Mrs. Montague had relatives from North Carolina to New Jersey. A niece, Hilda Ayers, lives in Baltimore.

Services were held Aug. 27 at the Jewell Funeral Home.

She is survived by a son, Bernard Montague of Philadelphia; a daughter, Mildred Montague of Atlantic City; six grandchildren; 35 great-grandchildren and 54 great-great-grandchildren.

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